Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Filipino bishops are ready to work with the new administration to build a “just society”, but as President-elect Benigno Aquino prepares for his inauguration, they have criticised his support for the Reproductive Health bill.
“We will collaborate in those things which are good for the welfare of the people,” said Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). “At the same time, we will also be critical in matters which we would perceive to be detrimental to the common good.”
Son of the late former President of the Philippines, Cory Aquino, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino won the recent presidential election with 43 per cent of the vote.
He got the support of voters, especially Catholic voters, by stressing the need to fight corruption and poverty and implement radical changes, after years of bad government under outgoing President Arroyo. His support for the Reproductive Health bill has however undermined his credibility.
Under proposed birth control legislation, which is backed by the United Nations as a way to fight poverty, contraceptive methods and voluntary sterilisation would become widely available.
For Bishop Nereo Odchimar, the position of the Church on the matter is unambiguous. For years, it has opposed the bill and prevented its adoption. Instead, it has insisted on the need for policies that favour life and human development in accordance with the Gospel.
Catholic bishops, he said, “have to lobby once again to make our position clear that we are for human life; the respect and preservation of human life is non-negotiable.”