Monday November 15, 2010

Philippine legislators plan to push controversial Reproductive Health Bill

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MANILA, November 15, 2010 ( – Members of the Philippine House of Representatives said on Thursday they plan to start hearings within two weeks on six versions of the Church-opposed Reproductive Health Bill.

Rep. Edcel Lagman, who introduced one version of the bill, said about 100 of the 278 House members support the various versions of the measure and he is confident the final version of the bill will receive approval from a majority of lawmakers during the 15th Congress’ first year by the end of June 2011.

“Thanks to Mr. Aquino’s steadfast support, the prospects of its approval in the 15th Congress are bright,” Lagman said in a press report.

“I’m positive that the President will remain steadfast in support of responsible parenthood. I think this is a feather in the cap of the President. This will in a way mitigate initial setbacks on the part of the administration if the President will remain to solidly support the RH bill,” he said.

President Aquino has ignited controversy in the predominantly Catholic country by expressing his support for government-sponsored promotion of artificial contraception and sex education. His predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, opposed similar legislation during her nine years in office.

Rep. Jose Maria Zubiri told a forum at the Sulo Riviera Hotel that the country’s “over-rapid and unsustainable population growth … has already become a national security issue.”

“Many of our problems in the Philippines stem from the fact that too many Filipinos make too many children that they cannot afford to take care of,” he said. “The population growth of the last 30 years was faster than the economic growth that could support it.”

Zubiri went on to suggest that the Reproductive Health Bill could be decided by a plebiscite.

“There’s never been a better time that something like this could pass than now,” Zubiri said. “If for whatever reason it doesn’t pass here, let’s submit to a plebiscite. It affects the people, let the people decide.”

Catholic Church officials oppose artificial contraception and sex education, arguing that it is the responsibility of parents to educate their children, and that promoting contraception and sex education would destroy the morals of the people.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he advises parents to mold their children’s conscience lest Filipinos end up being the kind of people now in Congress who, he said, have “poorly formed consciences.”

See previous LSN coverage:

Philippine Cardinal Sees ‘Head-on Collision’ between Govt. and Church over Reproductive Health Bill

Philippine Bishop Says Excommunication for President Benigno Aquino ‘a Possibility’

Bishops Urge New Philippine President to Shun ‘Contraceptive Mentality’

Philippine Legislators Attempting to Resurrect Controversial Reproductive Health Bill

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