Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Filipino bishops will not compromise on the possible application of the Reproductive Health Bill supported by President Aquino, who recently announced the free distribution of condoms among the poor.
According to sources within the Church, the meeting held last October 11 between the president and a delegation of Catholic Bishops' Conference was just a courtesy visit, which does not represent any kind of openness on the subject, as was described recently by national media .
Even Edwin Lacierda, Aquino's spokesman, confirmed the official version released yesterday that the bishops present at the meeting, including Mgr. Nereo Odchimar president of the CBCP, remain on their position in defence of life, but are open to dialogue with the institutions.
The debate on Reproductive Health has been running for four years. The law rejects clinical abortions, but promotes a family planning program, which prevents couples from having more than two children and encourages voluntary sterilization. Those who fail to comply with the law are likely to face a fine and imprisonment in some cases.
The Catholic Church instead promotes the Natural Family Programme (NFP), which aims to spread a culture of responsibility and love based on Christian values among the population. To date, the Aquino government considers the NFP ineffective in stopping the high birth rate and accuses the Church of undue interference in matters which concern the civil authority.
Archbishop Leonardo Legapsi, Archbishop of Caceres, said the bishops have a duty to intervene in matters which affect the lives and dignity of the person and emphasizes the essential contribution of the Church in the political debate. In a pastoral letter published in recent days, the bishop considers the contents of the law and use of public money by the government in the distribution of contraceptives unconstitutional. The Archbishop cites the preamble to the Philippine Constitution, which obliges the government to respect and embody the personal spiritual aspirations of citizens.