Philippine Deal on Natural Family Planning

Government and Church Reported in Partnership Agreement

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MANILA, Philippines, FEB. 8, 2002 ( Government and Church leaders endorsed a partnership agreement to advance the natural family planning method to complement the nation´s current program, the House Speaker said following a visit with Manila´s archbishop.

The Manila Bulletin reported today that House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Representative Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House committee on appropriations, informed Cardinal Jaime Sin, the archbishop, that the government has allocated this year $50 million (Philippine) to push the natural program and expand and diversify the choices of family planning methods for millions of Filipino families.

Cardinal Sin hailed De Venecia´s initiative and predicted the joint family planning program, the first between the government under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Catholic Church in this country, «will become a model for the whole world,» according to the Bulletin.

Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin and Dr. Elvira Dayrit (who represented Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit) said they welcomed the partnership agreement as a major step in formulating an expanded menu of family planning programs acceptable to both the government and the Church.

Cardinal Sin called the speaker´s initiative a strong boost to the Church-sanctioned family planning program.

«This is really a major problem that we must all address,» De Venecia said. «The quality of family life is being eroded and the quality of the family´s spiritual life is being affected.»

The Department of Health will create a joint task force that will include representatives from the Population Commission and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines´ committee on family planning to design a new program that could be launched within the next few weeks.

Although government agencies are biased toward the artificial method, the natural program will be promoted as «part of the menu» of mainstream family planning choices for millions of Filipinos, a Health Department official said.

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