By Sandy Araneta
Monday, July 14, 2008
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is mobilizing its forces to campaign against birth control proposals pending in Congress.
According to Fr. Melvin Castro, CBCP’s executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), the bishops decided to lobby before congressmen and explain the position of the Catholic Church on family planning and birth control issues.
“God willing, once our bishops would have a dialogue with these lawmakers, and through this mobilization, I hope they would think more deeply about these bills which they are signing,” Castro said over the Church-run Radyo Veritas.
Castro said the bishops would lead the information campaign against pending bills on birth control that is considered against the teachings of the Church.
When asked in particular on the pending bills in Congress, Castro said lawmakers have already consolidated the proposals into a single bill for “responsible parenthood” in the apparent effort to make it appear that the legislation was meant to promote public welfare.
“I will encapsulate this. Congress has consolidated these bills, on reproductive health, and responsible parenthood. These are all very positive, But in the back of these bills, it is not,” Castro said.
Castro claimed a provision in the one of the bills being pushed is to require sex education to be taught from fifth grade.
“Most alarming is this one. If we would go to rural health centers today, this is a reality, there are no antibiotics, not even a paracetamol. But according to this bill, a contraceptive will be considered as a special medicine. And this should be universally accessible to all,” he said.
He said contraception, or any means to control our bodies, is not in accordance with the teachings of the Church.
Malacañang, for its part, maintained the government’s population management and family planning programs had been effective and relevant amid warnings that the policies on the issue could put the country’s economy to the brink.
Lawmakers have warned the country’s current population of 90 million could hit 100 million in the next five to seven years if effective birth control measures cannot be implemented.
With about 85 percent of Filipinos Catholic, artificial birth control remains a sensitive issue as the Church strongly opposes any means other than natural methods in family planning.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza and Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez defended President Arroyo’s population management policies after some groups and former President Fidel Ramos hit the administration for its ambiguity on the issue of family planning because of its subservience to the Church. –With Paolo Romero