GIVEN the prevailing notoriety of the Philippines that is perceived as the most corrupt country in Asia, at least according to the 2007 perception survey conducted by Political & Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), it would not be too hard to swallow the expose of Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III last May 10 that P2.6 billion allocations of the Department of Health (DOH) for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) have not been received by some local government units (LGUs).
According to Sotto he has ample proofs to back his claims. Ilocos Norte, for instance, which was supposed to have received P644,525.60 in 2008; P602,590 in 2009 and P2.48 million in 2010, was among the verified local government units that have not received the MNCHN funds. Other LGUs that claimed non-receipt of the same allocations are Batangas, Quezon and Lucena, while the verification of other provinces is still ongoing. Reportedly, the total budget of MNCHN program for the whole country from 2008 to 2010 amounted to P2.6 billion.
The first question is, where have all this money gone? In an interview with GMA, former Secretary Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral defended that the release of the funds is performance-based, hence LGUs that have not “performed” are not supposed to be given the allocations. But still the question remains. The second is, if the government through the DOH is already operating on a well-funded program for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition then why the aggressive pursuit for the legislation of the Reproductive Health Bill? The third question is, if the DOH has been implementing this MNCHN program—granting the funds really went to where it should have been—which by public knowledge uses some contraceptives that are abortifacient, is not the government going against its very own constitution that considers abortion a criminal offense?
At the end of the day, it may not be farfetched to finally discover that the “pro-poor” and “pro-women” spins of those advocating the approval of the Reproductive Health Bill are not really serious. When money comes in the way, corruption certainly comes, sadly, as a matter of course—even at the cost of the lives of thousands of mothers and their babies.
But Filipinos being too pliant have lived and have seemingly condoned corruption since this country started self-governance. But one wonders now, if they can tolerate a greater corruption, the moral one—the one, for instance, that will corrupt the minds of their children by studying a government-mandated 6 years, as if taking masteral and doctorate degrees, how to indulge in sex even outside of marriage.