AS a Catholic, she believes it is her moral obligation to tell the truth. That, explains Dr. Ligaya Acosta, is why she bolted from the Department of Health (DOH) where she worked for almost 29 years. Acosta, 45, decided to leave the job she loved for more than half her life after realizing that her work has been deviating from her moral principles. She worked for the Department of Health in Region 8 in 1976, where she started as the regional information officer. Acosta, who holds a doctorate in management, was designated program manager of the Natural Family Planning program last year. But with the inception of the Ligtas Buntis campaign of the DOH late January this year, she decided to resign in late February and started an advocacy against the program. A mother of four, Acosta now travels around the country to expose what she views as the negative aspects of the project, amid threats to her and her family.
What was your initial rection when you first heard about the Ligtas Buntis campaign of the DOH?
I was stunned. I was very quiet since that morning of our orientation on the program. My heart was really pounding, as if it was going to burst, because I already saw the deception in the program.
The program includes distribution of contraceptives to people, and the DOH is not exactly telling the truth about contraceptives: that contraceptives have side effects on women. These cause hypertension or high blood pressure. Plus, some of these contraceptives are actually abortifacients (abortive agents), like IUD (intra-uterine devices) and Depo-Provera (birth control shots).
You have been working for DOH for 29 years, but why did you decide to come out and speak against it only this year?
Because DOH never told us about the side effects of contraceptives. I used to think that contraceptives were really for family welfare. But it was only last year, when I joined a seminar organized by the Family of the Americas Foundation, that I saw the real effects of contraceptives. They had research materials and videos documenting the ill effects of contraceptives. A video titled “Natural vs. Artificial” changed my paradigm. Using an electron microscope, the video showed a comparison of a uterus that had been exposed to contraceptives and one that wasn’t. The one exposed to contraceptives like Depo-Provera was really dry and barren while the other one looks so beautiful and healthy. From then on, when I conducted seminars for DOH, I included in my talk what I learned from the Americas Foundation.
And this didn’t sit well with the DOH?
Yes. After being exposed to the side effects of contraceptives, I conducted my own research on the matter. While digging and learning more about contraceptives, I became very unhappy with my job at DOH. In the same manner, DOH was also becoming unhappy with the way I conducted my seminars. The “contraceptives people” hated me a lot because they said na nakakasira ako sa contraceptives.
So that was when you decided to resign from DOH?
Actually, I was willing to compromise. I told them I will continue to work for them just as long as we include in our materials the side effects of contraceptives. We couldn’t agree on that. And then they introduced the Ligtas Buntis program, and that was the last straw for me.
What was their reaction?
They hated me a lot, especially now that I am exposing their deception. Also, it’s only Region 8 that was very noisy. There was no one else from the other regions that was going against Ligtas Buntis. And now, they want to destroy my person, my credibility. They say I’m a liar and mentally ill. Just recently, they came out with an open letter attacking me, and they sent it to all government agencies. Every now and then I also receive death threats.
How did your family take this?
They are supporting me fully. In the beginning, they were affected by the attacks of the DOH, but they support me all the way. We are closer now than we’ve ever been before. What do you suggest to those health workers who also want to oppose the program? There are already a number of health workers who want to come with me in opposing Ligtas Buntis. I told them not to worry since I talked to some lawyers in Manila who assured us of their support. You can never be imprisoned for following your conscience.
How do you view the church’s pronouncement that health workers advocating Ligtas Buntis should refrain from taking communion? I agree. Because supporting Ligtas Buntis makes them anti-life and is an indirect way of promoting abortion, and that is a mortal sin.
Any message to your detractors?
I’ll just pray for them.