Yes, there are a good number of misconceptions about the bill, and there can be dishonest critics who set up straw men they can merrily attack. One may ask, for instance, how many among the Church authorities have read and studied HB 4244? This is an important question because I see the amendments as efforts to adjust to the transition from an established Catholic Church whose word was law to today’s demands of freedom of religion.
I propose the pulling together of the various amendments already accepted by the authors of the bill.
Sec. 13. Role of barangay health workers. Instead of saying that they should “give priority to family planning work,” simply say they should “help implement this Act.” This should obviate the complaints that family planning is being given undue emphasis.
Sec. 15. Funding Mobile Health Services. Charge the funding to the national government, not to the lawmakers’ Priority Development Fund (PDAF) while at the same time allowing individual lawmakers to use their PDAF.
Sec. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Sex Education. Give parents the option not to allow their children to attend mandatory sex education; at the same time give assistance to parents who want help in this matter. This is in conformity with the primary right of parents.
Sec. 20. Ideal Family Size. Delete the entire provision. This will preclude further misinformation about the meaning of this provision.
Sec. 21. Employers’ Responsibility. Delete this because it is simply a restatement of Article 134 of the Labor Code. Deleting it will preclude further debate.
Sec. 28(e) Prohibited Acts. Delete the provision which penalizes “any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act.” There already are penal limits to the freedom of expression.
In addition to the amendments proposed by the authors of the consolidated bill, there are others which are worth considering. Let me mention a few: