Filipino bishops urge government to support natural family planning
Manila (AsiaNews) The Catholic Church of the Philippines has called on the country's Congress to support the "pro-life" population control programme based on natural family planning. Prelates have urged the authorities to allocate the necessary funds to the plan and not wait for United Nations aid.
Archbishop Piciano Aniceto, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission of Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), spoke yesterday at a press conference held in the capital. He said that the Church "maintains its position that the proposed measures [i.e. bills before Congress] are a form of abortion disguised as 'reproductive health projects'". He stressed that the Church "only supports the [. . .] use of the ovulation method for couples in the Philippines."
This technique allows for natural family planningi.e. without the use of contraceptivesand was developed by the World Health Organisation.
Archbishop Aniceto noted that the issue is also an economic one. With the ovulation method, there would be no more need to import contraceptives, which reportedly cost 2.5 billion of Filipino pesos (US$ 37 million) a year.
"Can you imagine [. . .] if the 2.5 billion pesos are diverted to micro-finance programmes? At least 5,000 pesos per family means 50,000 families could improve their respective family productivity," he said.
Dr Bernardo Villeges, president of the University of Asia and the Pacific, and Jose Sandejas of the Brotherhood of Filipino Family, were among those who joined the CBCP press conference in seeking the support of Congress.
Dr Villeges explained that there was no scientific evidence that population growth should be blamed for poverty, and that the government's current population control programme, which promotes unrestrained use of contraceptives, is a terrible sign of poverty in the country.
Archbishop Anaceto praised the efforts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who, speaking at the United Nations on October 12, announced that her government would use UN funds to bolster reproductive health programmes that teach couples to use the ovulation method.
"We have been through a lot of governments in the past and it is only this government that has made clear its principle to respect the family life principles of the church," he said.
Following the President's announcement on October 12, Card Ricardo Vidal also praised Ms Arroyo "courageous decision to adopt a new policy of family planning. He also urged those who advocate other methods that violate religious precepts to accept a moratorium independent of party lines to give everyone time to assess the measures that are meant to protect women, the family and Filipino society.
Filipino bishops oppose the 'Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act' of 2005, better known as Bill 3773 or the two-child law; 'Population and Development Act' (Bill 1808), and the 'Responsible Parenthood Act' (Bill 3422), and call for them to be place under a moratorium.