By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MANILA, Philippines, July 29, 2008 ( – During yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reaffirmed her support for natural family planning over artificial methods such as condoms and pills, and declared her endorsement of the Catholic Church’s position on reproductive health issues.

In her eighth State of the Nation Address, the President denounced the campaign aimed at promoting the use of artificial contraception and said her administration’s adherence to natural methods had actually trimmed the country’s population growth rate.

“By promoting natural planning and female education, we have curbed population growth to 2.04 percent during our administration, down from the 2.36 in the 1990s, when artificial birth control was pushed,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

In recalling the 1990’s, Mrs. Arroyo was referring to the policy maintained by previous President Fidel Ramos, which actively promoted artificial birth control methods.

“Informed choice should mean letting more couples, who are mostly Catholics, know about natural family planning,” said Mrs. Arroyo, a Catholic mother of three.

Addressing the speculation that population growth must be limited because of insufficient food resources, the President cited Agriculture Ministry data. “Rice production since 2000 increased an average of 4.07 percent a year, twice the population growth rate,” she observed.

On Friday, Catholic bishops and more than 12,000 faithful gathered at a rally denouncing the Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the University of Santo Tomas campus in Manila. (See “15 Filippino Bishops Lead 12,000 in Prayer Rally Celebrating 40th Anniversary of Controversial Humanae Vitae Encyclical”:

The Reproductive Health Act would create a new agency called the Commission on Population (POPCOM) which would “encourage” families to have only two children, and promote the use of a variety of abortifacient drugs, including the IUD and the pill.

The Catholic Church has maintained its opposition to the bill, which favors the legalization of abortion, and is consistent with the coercive population demands of the UN Population Fund and Planned Parenthood International.

A report from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which funded pro-abortion/contraception population management projects in the Philippines last year, decried the Catholic Church’s and Mrs. Arroyo’s opposition to their plans.

“Under the current administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, theâEUR¦government has refused to buy contraceptives, worsening the shortage,” the report says. The report goes on to criticize the Church, whose “fervent opposition to contraception continues to hamper service delivery and policy implementation” in the Philippines. (To read the report, go to

Curiously, the Packard Foundation report gives the Philippines’ population growth rate at only 1.8 percent, which is below replacement level and substantially below the 2.36 percent rate cited by pro-abortion advocates to justify population management legislation.