09/16/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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For Filipino bishops reproductive health “prophets” are false and immoral

by Santosh Digal
The country’s Bishops’ Conference slams a political campaign driven by personal and economic interests that offend the notions of “right and wrong.” Proposed law on family planning methods is backed by some Protestant groups.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Catholics should not listen to “false prophets” who want to impose a “new morality’ on the country which is what a section of Congress is trying to do with the reproductive health bill, Mgr Paciano Aniceto said. For the archbishop of Pampanga and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference the bill on artificial family planning methods “offends all notions of right and wrong, good and bad, and rejects the very truth we have received from God.”

He urged Catholic lawmakers not to be swayed by political parties who promote personal interests ahead of the next elections and enjoy the backing of contraceptives manufacturers and suppliers whose sole goal is to make profits and have access to bigger markets.

In this debate the views of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are again back in the limelight.

Her Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that her preference for natural family planning is an executive statement, not government policy. For now, the President is allowing Congress “to determine the policy on a very important issue like reproductive health,” Dureza told lawmakers at the House of Representatives. However, he noted that the President would “have her own take on the matter at the proper time.”

Dureza's statement came in response to a question by one of the main supporters of the reproductive health bill who asked if the President's statements were an “executive statement” or “government policy.”

The president’s spokesman reiterated that “the president,” the mother of three, “has a clear policy that she is against artificial means of family planning.”

Conversely, the reproductive health bill has received the backing of an important Filipino Protestant Church, which said that family planning should be left to couples.

“We respect what they (Catholics) believe in, if they want to air their side to the public or to the media provided they don't condemn (anti-poverty) projects of the government,” said Pastor Abel Baclayon of the New Life Christian Center.

The Protestant clergyman said his group doesn't consider it a sin for couples to use artificial contraceptives like condoms and pills.

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