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MANILA, July 23, 2012–President Benigno Aquino III on Monday clearly stated his administration’s population control agenda and an official of the Catholic Church’s family and life ministry is not happy about it.
Fr. Melvin Castro said it is now clear that the proposed reproductive health (RH) bill or Aquino’s version of it called “responsible parenthood” is not about health but about birth control.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed about it,” said Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In his third State of the Nation Address, Aquino laid out his administration’s programs in addressing the problems besetting the education system such as the shortage of textbooks and lack of classrooms.
“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,” Aquino said in Tagalog.
The President has repeatedly said that his responsible parenthood policy is for a comprehensive health care for women and not for population control.
Castro said Aquino’s latest pronouncement has only affirmed the Church’s concern that the RH bill or the responsible parenthood bill is nothing but a population control bill “disguised” as a health measure.
“They’ve got so many excuses. In the end, it is about population control,” said Castro who was at a Family and Life Conference in Antipolo City when Aquino delivered his third SONA.
Castro also chided Aquino for using population control as the solution to the challenges that the education sector is facing.
“We do not see any connection between the education problem and the RH bill or his responsible parenthood [bill] because these are about promoting and funding of contraceptive usage,” he said.
Contrary to reports of a Philippine population explosion, he said that data from the National Statistics Office and the Population Commission show that there is a “downtrend” in the population growth rate.
“There’s something wrong with the President’s thinking and his solution to the problem,” added Castro.
The CBCP and even many health experts are strongly against the RH bill because of its provisions that promote the use of contraceptives which they deem to be “abortifacients” or abortion-causing.
The RH bill requires a large-scale government funding of artificial contraceptives. Its proponents claim the measure is the answer to maternal mortality and other health concerns.
Many critics, however, have rejected the idea, saying necessary measures are already in place. (CBCPNews)