11/07/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Manila to spend two billion pesos on birth control, Church says no

by Santosh Digal
House of representatives decides funding in 2008 budget because high birth rate adversely impacts public welfare. Bishops oppose initiative, calling instead for greater commitment against unemployment and poverty, promoting natural methods of birth controls.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Despite Filipino bishops’ strong opposition, the House of Representatives has decided to spend PHP 2 billion (US million) on population management. Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said yesterday “it’s time the government tackled the burgeoning population problem.”

Last month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines strongly opposed the government’s move to allocate this sum of money for birth control, demanded instead the amount should be spent on the eradication of poverty and unemployment.

For Lagman funding “will help contain the [. . .] annual population growth rate of 2.36 percent [. . .], which impacts adversely on the principal indicators of human development like health care, quality education, food security, employment, mass housing and the environment.”

He noted that funds would be used on nationwide educational campaign and seminars on birth control, and for the procurement of “modern natural and artificial reproductive health products.”

The Church has tried several times to stop government initiatives in favour of artificial birth control methods.

Catholics, especially in southern Philippines, have instead been involved in the promotion of natural family planning methods, the well-known Billings method, which has been effective.

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