Cagayan de Oro:church and government promote natural family planning methods
In the Philippines the divergence continues between bishops and parliamentarians, in favour of the law on reproductive health. In Mindanao, an active training program that respects human life and promotes responsible parenthood to over 22 thousand couples. Instances of abortion grows across the country, an estimated half a million in 2010.

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, southern Philippines, has developed a project that aims to "go beyond" the ideological confrontation between bishops and parliamentarians in favour of the law on reproductive health (RH). With the support of the Curia and the commitment of numerous volunteers families are taught natural birth control that respects the absolute value of human life "from conception" and "responsible parenthood". An example of cooperation between church and institutions, while throughout the rest of the country, the confrontation between the two sides continues.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, outlines the programme in a statement that makes clear from the outset the desire to "go beyond" the RH, with natural methods of family planning (NFP) which respect the consciences of the faithful and areas of expertise government. 90% of the 58 parishes of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, said the prelate, have trained more than 2 thousand volunteers who will explain the methodologies to the population.

The consultants are located in more than 500 barangay (the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines) and provide information and advice to over 22 thousand couples. Over the past two years, the consultants of the NFP in the province of Misamis Oriental have organized 345 training sessions in 24 cities. In Cagayan de Oro alone, the provincial capital, local government have trained 721 volunteers in 62 different barangays.

Msgr. Ledesma emphasizes the "core values" behind the project that unites the church and local government: the non-negotiable principle of respect for human life, from conception, and responsible parenthood. Among the scientific methods proposed include the control of basal body temperature and, used by the majority, the method of the standard days following the woman's menstrual cycle.

The debate on the Reproductive Health Bill has been ongoing for four years. It rejects clinical abortion, but promotes a family planning program, urging couples to have no more than two children, penalizes the conscientious objection of doctors and health professionals, and promotes voluntary sterilization. The Catholic Church instead proposes the Natural Family Programme (NFP), which aims to spread a culture of responsibility and love based on Christian values among the population.

The example of the province in Mindanao, however, remains an isolated case. In the rest of the archipelago, in fact, the controversy is still raging between the two sides. Recently the Church has received the support of the boxing champion and local hero Manuel Pacquiao, that "the law on reproductive health, is not the solution to the problems of the country."

Derived estimates show that abortion, although illegal, is practiced in many areas of the Philippines. The evaluations, based on abortion-related complications, show that from 400 thousand in 1997 the number grew to 473,400 cases in 2005. In Manila alone the number has increased from 41 to 52% from 11 to 17% in Visayas. In 2010, the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is estimated to have reached half a million.