Non-existent RH lobby groups getting massive funds from foreign orgs?

MANILA, Dec. 6, 2011–RH bill sponsors have apparently been dealing with lobby groups whose government registrations are either non-existent or had been revoked, a senator has revealed.

The revelation is telling as these groups have been getting money from foreign organizations known to be waging an international campaign for the legalization of abortion.

In yet another expose on the well-oiled machine pushing for the passage of the controversial “reproductive health” (RH) bill, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III bared that one particular lobby group – the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) – has a budget for “nurturing legislators” from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has been criticized for its coercive abortion policies.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) has also been getting millions of dollars in subsidies from UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the largest abortion provider in the world founded by the eugenicist Margaret Sanger, Sotto noted.

“I’m very much interested in looking at the financial statements of these organizations, [as there are] reports that these are receiving subsidies from foreign organizations particularly those foreign organizations whose main thrust is to legalize abortions … through the help of NGOs,” Sotto said as he interpellated the sponsor of the RH bill in the Senate, Sen. Pia Cayetano, on Monday.

Sotto, citing the list of resource persons who helped craft the bill, said the database of the Securities and Exchange Commission yielded the following results:

•  Pinasamang Lakas ng Kababaihan at Kabataan – “Not Found”
•  Program for Adolescent Reproductive Health – “Not Found”
•  Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines – “Does Not Exist”
•  Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development – “Revoked”
•  HIV-AIDS Network – “Revoked”
•  Likhaan – “Revoked”
•  RHAN – “No Records”
•  Institute of Maternal and Child Health – “Does Not Exist”

Cayetano said Sotto raised “very valid points.” But the budget for “nurturing legislators” only involved “expenses of community leaders to talk to legislators,” she claimed. Most of the pro-RH groups are not juridical entities but groups formed for a cause, she admitted.

On the groups’ links to IPPF and UNFPA, Cayetano claimed: “They do not have specific responsibilities in the bill. It doesn’t matter.”

Sotto, however, warned that these pro-RH lobby groups could be violating the law.

“We might also have to check from their financial statements if they have been nurturing legislators in the past two years,” he added.

Sotto noted that Republic Act No. 1827 or “An Act to Regulate Lobbying in the Congress of the Philippines and in the Commission on Appointments,” prohibits “corrupt means to influence legislation.” Also, the Foreign Service Act of 1979 (Batas Pambansa 39) requires foreign lobbyists to register, he pointed out.

“Nakikialam sila sa paggawa ng batas dito sa atin eh. ‘Di po ba dapat alamin natin kung sino sila?” he asked.

A check with Ceyatano’s Senate Bill 2865 showed the following specific, policy-recommending responsibility for NGOs:

“SEC. 20. Reporting Requirements. – Before the end of April each year, the DOH and POPCOM, in consultation with non-government organizations, women’s organizations, young people’s organizations and the private sector, shall submit to the President of the Philippines and Congress an annual consolidated report, which shall provide a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of its programs and those of other government agencies and instrumentalities and recommend priorities for executive and legislative actions.” (Dominic Francisco)

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