Makati City, August 16, 2019 – A coalition of 11 organizations today launched a campaign urging Filipinos to show their support openly for family planning and reproductive health (RH), with the “DO IT RIGHT!” slogan and a distinctive hand sign.Repeated opinion polls have shown that more than 70 percent of Filipinos support family planning and initiatives, such as the Responsible Parenthood and RH Law.
“The ‘DO IT RIGHT!’ campaign is designed to encourage everyone to take those beliefs they already hold inside and share them out in the open, proudly, especially on social media like Facebook,” said co-organizer Benjamin de Leon, President of The Forum for Family Planning and Development. “By showing each other how many feel the same, in a positive, celebratory spirit, Filipinos can together free themselves of old inhibitions.”
The campaign will include a social-media blitz, festival events, as well as advertising in traditional media like billboards, print, and radio. It encourages couples and individuals to flash the Do It Right! hand sign in selfie posts or in public: Two fingers held up together — representing the members of a couple – with a thumb in-between representing the contraceptive or safe-sex measures that strengthen their bond.
The coalition has set up a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DoItRightPH/) to serve as the focal point for the evolving campaign, as well as the hashtag #DoItRight.
Initial members include DKT Philippines, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), The Forum for Family Planning and Development, The Philippine Society for Responsible Parenthood, LoveYourself, RTI International, SheDecides Philippines, and all four professional associations for the country’s midwives.
At a press conference held in Makati City, they called on more like-minded organizations and individuals to throw their weight behind the campaign.
“This is wide open. We invite anyone who feels this topic is important — companies, famous Filipinos, anyone — to come on board,” said Hyam Asher Bolande, Chairman of the Board of DKT Philippines. Following the example of the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement that grew in North America as more and more women spoke up, the Do It Right! campaign is designed to gather strength over time, he added.
Economists and public-health experts have long lamented the need for improved RH education and access to modern contraception in the Philippines, especially for the country’s poorest. Religious-based organizations have protested the RH Law in recent years, but the law prevailed against court challenges and is fully in force today.
At the press conference, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III hailed the launch of the ‘DO IT RIGHT!’ campaign, which he said comes at a crucial time when the government is also increasing its efforts to fully implement the law.
Nandy Senoc, FPOP Executive Director, said, “It’s high time for society to finally put aside fears and embarrassment about this topic and declare openly – as the majority of Filipinos, together – that RH is OK, that it’s responsible.”
“When youth and women are empowered, there will be no teen pregnancies, no early marriages, no unwanted pregnancies, or abortions. When women are well informed, the fight against poverty is already halfway won,” he added.
About the ‘Do It Right!’ Coalition
DKT Philippines is a foundation that has been promoting family planning in the Philippines since 1991 when it pioneered the mass distribution of condoms through social marketing of the Trust brand. It is affiliated with DKT International, Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that works in 29 developing countries worldwide to make affordable contraceptive choices and education on RH available to all.
The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) is a provider of quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to all Filipinos especially the poor and marginalized, socially excluded, and underserved groups or populations. It operates clinics, partners with other clinics and/or facilities for referrals conducts outreach clinics, and partners with community-based distributors and volunteers.
The Forum for Family Planning and Development has been among the lead NGOs involved in pushing policies that benefit women and children. Key accomplishments include supporting the RH Law, the lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on Implants and other FP commodities, the Safe Public Spaces Law to address sexual harassment and VAW in public spaces, and the Mental Health Law. The Forum is part of a consortium of NGOs advocating for adequate and equitable government budgets for health.
The Philippine Society for Responsible Parenthood (PSRP) was organized in 2003 to empower women and families to determine when and how many pregnancies they will have. It has three main programs: advocacy for FP, training of FP providers, and raising the quality of FP services for women.
LoveYourself is a volunteer-driven community-based non-profit organization that provides a wide range of HIV and sexually transmitted infection-related services, including education and prevention, testing, counseling, treatment, and life coaching, as well as transgender health services.
RTI International is an independent, nonprofit institute that provides research, development, and technical services to government and commercial clients worldwide. RTI works in the Philippines in partnership with the Philippine Government and civil society to strengthen health systems and improve health outcomes. RTI is currently the lead implementor of ReachHealth, a five-year USAID-funded project that aims to reduce the unmet need for family planning services and decrease teen pregnancy and newborn morbidity and mortality.
SheDecides Philippines is the local movement of SheDecides, an urgent reaction to the reinstatement by US President Donald Trump of the Global Gag Rule, which prevents NGOs outside the US from receiving money from the US government if they provide RH services. The goal of the organization is to counter the devastating effects of this rule on women, girls, and their communities around the world.
The Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP), the Private Practicing Midwives Association of the Philippines (PPMAP), the Midwives Foundation of the Philippines (MFPI), and the Philippine League of Government and Private Midwives (PLGPM) are the main associations for professional midwives in the country.
Registration was a breeze and we were all given ID’s, pins, pens, and goodie bags.
As mentioned earlier, Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) graced the event as a guest of honor as well as the heads and representatives of the 11 organizations some of which are mentioned above.
Mr. Perez talked about the works of the DoIt Right! campaign hitting the right notes and complementing the old campaign of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), “Ang pamilyang planado, panalo”.
In the next four years, we will saved over 2000 women’s lives. Our work will avert 3 million abortions in this country and women will be able to avoid 4 million unplanned pregnancies. That is what the campaign is about. – Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM)
Mr. Hyam Asher Bolande, Chairman of the Board of DKT Philippines, also talked and explained the meaning of the hand sign they have created. “It is a hand sign which people can use, without words, the same sentiment of the campaign.” He talked about what the symbol means as well as the launching of the hashtag #DoItRight on social media and their promotional video. Photo-ops followed soon after.
And of course, lunch was so delectable!
Some Questions Raised During the Event
Inquirer Philippines: “What are the ways you are doing to convince the men, who are after all the instigator? The campaign should be really addressed to the men. Will it be a lot to convince the men to help?”
Hyam Asher Bolande, Chairman of the Board, DKT Philippines: “Men, of course, are also a target of this campaign, as well as everybody else in the Philippines. The reason why the focus is mostly on women and girls is because they are one of the most harshly affected people when family planning and reproductive health is denied or neglected. One of the principal goals of the campaign is to empower women and girls to stand for themselves and to seek the protection that they deserve. But, of course, men are a target of the campaign. We absolutely stand that men should take their share of responsibility. “
ManilaBulletin: “There’s a continues rise of HIV cases in the Philippines and a rise of unwanted pregnancy in teenagers, How do you address this needs deeper and more active when it comes to educating the youth and can you give a message to them not to be afraid to try these things? Because we have this taboo in our country or because kids are afraid to talk to their parents about the options they have.”
Ronivin Garcia Pagtakhan, Founder/Executive Director of LoveYourself, Inc.: “It’s true. Every day there are 38 cases of HIV, and almost 80 percent of them belongs to the age group of 15 to 24. I think we need to start in the homes of the youth because we need to remove the stigma and the taboo about sex.”
Cosmopolitan: “Where can I find a gynecologist who won’t judge me for having pre-marital sex or for choosing not to have kids? Will your website have resources like that or are you gonna be partnering up with medical professionals?”
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM): “I can volunteer the POPCOM’s family wellness clinic in Mandaluyong. They’re open Monday to Friday. Non-judgmental”
jenamaen.com: “How would you answer to a religious group who firmly believes that using condoms or other forms of contraceptives is against the way God intends the reproductive system to be used. I mean, they believe that if sex happens and if ever the woman conceived or not should be left at God’s will.”
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM): “The very reason why we have four letters in the law. We call it the RPRH Law is because the first element we want to talk about is Responsible Parenthood. Even the head of Family Planning is responsible parenthood. And that is a decision made, independently, by couples and they should make that decision in a voluntary way. The family planning program is completely voluntary. When couples have to decide, they should decide on the basis of responsible parenthood. Even church people that I have talked to, the first we all agreed upon is responsible parenthood. There might be disagreement on the method, but responsible parenthood is something we all agreed on. The methods, there might be some that want this method or that method, but in the end, it’s a voluntary process. Whatever anyone says, people choose what the method they want base on proper information. That’s the kind of atmosphere we would like for this country. People are able to participate responsibly in a voluntary program with full information. And that’s what the RPRH Law promises.”
Arguably, the concept of safe sex and the use of contraceptives has risen due to the increasing level of pre-marital sex all over the world. Sex should be safe but within the bounds of marriage. It is sacred. Within the bonds of marriage, I firmly believe that it is the right of the couple to choose whether to use contraceptives or not. It is their right to decide how many numbers of kids they want to have or not to have. If the government will take that right away, I think that’s when the law would cross the line. At the end of the day, it all trickles down to our individual choices in life. It is vital to choose the right person to do it with. It is best to be pure until the marriage altar. It is ok to family plan but don’t ignore God’s gift of having children. In this age of sin and consequences, all we have to do is to learn and #DoItRight this time.