|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
Prominent academics from the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo have expressed confidence that more than half of the House of Representatives will vote in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill.
Led by former University of the Philippines (UP) president Francisco Nemenzo, the academics said that 143 House members will support the bill, which guarantees universal access to and information on birth control, among others.
"We have 143 members of the House of Representatives voting in our favor while 33 remain neutral," said the statement, which was signed by more than 15 noted academics.
The group, including a retired official from the United Nations, came up with the number "based on actual interviews with the legislators themselves or their office staff."
At the same time, the group asked Filipinos "to be critical of what they read in the newspapers."
"The figures presented by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to the media have been generated through questionable methods of research," the group said in a statement entitled "Beware When the Bishops Do Science." "Their numbers are based on hearsay reports of what are likely to be biased interviews."
"When numbers don't match, please choose the numbers generated by reliable research methods," the statement added.
The statement also said that the CBCP is "acting in a morally questionable way when it ignores the overwhelming desire of Filipinos for the passage of this bill."
The group added: "It also shows an appalling insensitivity to the suffering and death of Filipino women."
Members of the group will begin a seven-day period to be held in UP Diliman in which they will light "candles to counteract the deplorable campaign of misinformation around the RH Bill."
The group asked legislators to "base [their] decisions on the mainstream expert opinion of the academic community which reflects scientifically the lived experiences of our people. Vote, not based on political expediency but for the enlightened social legislation that your constituents want."
They also expect to get a larger number of signatories then when more than 500 professors of them from the UP and Ateneo put out a joint statement in support of the RH bill.
“Some colleagues from Miriam and La Salle are coming over within the week with their candles. We start with some blue and maroon candles today. But we expect green and gold soon. I am sure we shall have a rainbow by August 7,” said Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, the dean of the UP Center of Women's Studies, where the candle lighting was held.
Academics who lit candles in the the color of their school were
*Prof. Zelda Zablan, social scientist of the year 2005;
*Prof. Mary Racelis of Ateneo, retired United Nation official;
*former Dean and UN Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity Virginia Dandan;
*Dean Rosalinda Ofreneo of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development (CWSCD);
*Dean Carolyn Sobritchea of the UP Asian Center;
*Dean Dina Ocampo, UP College of Education;
*Associate Dean Fidel Nemenzo, UP College of Sciences;
*Former Chair Peachy Mendoza of UP Department of Psychology;
*Prof. Elizabeth Pangalangan of the UP College of Law Institute of IHR;
*Professor Emeritus Thelma Kintanar, UP College of Arts and Letters;
*Prof. Marvic Raquiza, National College of Public Administration and Governance;
*Prof. Natsy Verceles, UP CSWCD;
*Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, Director of the UP Center for Women's Studies;
*Dr. Theresa Ujano Batangan and Pro. Eric Manalastas, Deputy Directors.