Filipino Bishops Say Presidents Support of Reproductive Measure Is Misleading

Call for Faithful to Protest Ahead of August Vote

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By Junno Arocho

SAN PABLO, Philippines, JULY 27, 2012 ( Bishop Leo Murphy Drona of San Pablo in the Philippines criticized Filipino president Benigno Aquino III for his apparent support of the Responsible Parenthood Bill, also known as the Reproductive Health Bill (RH). 

In his State of the Nation Address, President Aquino, while speaking on education, gave his support for the legislation. «We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps responsible parenthood can help address this,» President Aquino said. 

If the legislation is passed, the bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce «sexual education» on children starting at the 5th grade level. 

Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.

In response to the president’s statement, Bishop Drona asserted that Aquino was «misleading the Filipino nation into believing that by killing children and the unborn through aggressive population reduction, through the RH law, will be better for the country.»

Archbishop Jose Palmas of Cebu City, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), along with other members of the Episcopal Conference have called on the faithful to hold protests against the law.

«People are free to manifest their own conviction not just for those who are in favor of RH but also for other people who certainly want to manifest that they are opposed to it. We support rallies against the RH bill,» the archbishop said in an interview with Radio Veritas. 

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the CBCP expressed his sadness and disappointment at President Aquino’s remarks. He also said that the president’s statement only confirmed the Church’s belief that the RH bill was nothing more than a population control measure «disguised» as a health care bill.

«They’ve got so many excuses. In the end, it is about population control,» Castro said at a Family and Life Conference in Antipolo City. «We do not see any connection between the education problem and the RH bill or his responsible parenthood [bill] because these are about the promoting and funding of contraceptive usage.»

Fr. Castro suggested that the faithful should also hold novenas till August 6, the day before the bill will be put up to a vote. 

«Let us pray so that they’ll vote according to their conscience and that there won’t be any pressure from the party leadership.» he said. 

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