PLCPD launches book on RH struggle

QUEZON City, May 13—PLCPD, in partnership with Oxfam Philippines, launched on May 13 a book of reflections and anecdotes from leading reproductive health (RH) advocates.

Titled Kagampan, which means the stage of pregnancy approaching childbirth, the book features reflections and anecdotes as told by 12 individuals who played a leading role in the campaign to pass the RH Law.

They are: RH Law authors former Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, and now Secretary of Health Janette P. Loreto Garin; pioneering advocates in Congress former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani and first author of RH bill Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, who also pioneered local legislation on RH; Sultan Kudarat Vice Governor Ernesto F. Matias; former Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral, convener of the Purple Ribbon for RH; and champions from the civil society including Dr. Junice Demeterio-Melgar of Likhaan Center for Women’s health, Ms. Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, Bishop Rodrigo Tano of the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, Ms. Lina Bacalando of Pinagsamang Lakas ng Kababaihan at Kabataan, and Mr. Romeo C. Dongeto of PLCPD.

Testament to victory

Dongeto said that the book is a reminder of the long and difficult journey that led to the enactment of the RPRH Law – a tribute and testament to men and women who worked tirelessly in the campaign. “[This book] is our story,” he told the RH advocates who attended the book launch.

According to Representative Lagman, Kagampan “helps us remember that we have accomplished an outstanding feat and reminds us that we can do it again.” He believes that the book captures the lessons in the RH advocacy, lessons that could inspire future campaigns.

Justin Morgan, Oxfam Philippines country director, said that the stories in the book “remind us for who are we doing this…for the people.”

“The RH Law is pregnant with potential to change millions of lives… pregnant with opportunities and prospect for sustainable development,” Rep. Lagman added, alluding to the title of the book.

Lessons from the RH campaign

The RH Bill was enacted in December 2012, 12 years after the first version of the bill was filed in Congress. The Supreme Court ruled on its constitutionality in April 2014.

Congresswoman Angara-Castillo, who authored the first RH bill in 2001, attributed the success of the RH campaign to the mobilization of multisectoral support and participation.

However, in the beginning, even advocates disagreed on the framing of the issue, Dr. Melgar said. But they realized that to succeed, they had to reach for a common ground, which ultimately became key to the civil society campaign’s success.