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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arroyo likely to take bishops’ side on population--exec

Once again, the issue on access to reproductive health and population management is taking center stage in political discourse. For us RH/PopDev advocates, this should still be good, because despite the Church' opposition, many politicians and heads of gov't agencies are speaking and making reasonable arguments against them.

It usually makes me tick every time the Church opposes RH bills, without offering any solutions to the country's problems. Now, it actually makes me laugh how they can sum up the issues into one - ABORTION.

I believe the public knows better. And they deserve better. And for Gloria Arroyo, c'mon! As an economist, YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER. You really need to go... the palace needs someone not delusional and actually in touch with the realities plaguing the country. Pleasing the Church does not necessarily please GOD.

Arroyo likely to take bishops’ side on population--exec

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 15:33:00 07/15/2008

PLACER, Masbate -- (UPDATE) Amid calls from her Cabinet for a “stronger and more decisive” population management policy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will likely take the side of Catholic bishops supporting the use of natural birth control methods to curb the country’s growing population, an adviser said Tuesday.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, an economic adviser of the President, said Arroyo was expected to make this known during her July 28 State of the Nation Address, which the local official is helping draft.

But Salceda said that he and several Cabinet members would still pursue a review of the present policy.

The continuous growth in the country's population is a "handicap to poverty reduction" and "will put to risk the lives of 2.6 million new babies every year," Salceda said.

"There's very little pressure for drastic change in the policy, which the President says she wants to be consistent. Apparently, there are no people going out on the streets calling for less sex because it is sinfully delightful," Salceda said in jest.

Salceda said the heads of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and Department of Education had been supportive of the move to have a more responsive population management policy, saying failure to curb its growth will weigh down on the government's development programs.

For her part, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral said in a separate interview that Arroyo should realize there are other, more effective methods of family planning.

We have be sensitive of course to the religious practices of our people, that's the reason why the policy should say that everybody's choice should be respected , that everybody should be given information so that they can make the proper choice," she said.

Cabral said she hopes local government units will continue to be given a free hand in deciding which population management policy they should implement in their localities.

She said the booming population, if not checked, would eventually weigh down on government agencies, like the DSWD, implementing social services.

"If the demand for these services keeps getting bigger, then we will really have a hard time trying to improve their lives," she added.

Arroyo had met with several bishops to hear their position on the reproductive health bills pending in Congress.

She said she has asked leaders of Congress to meet with the Catholic Church leaders to discuss the measure.

Ozamis Archbisop Jesus Dosado has ordered priests in his diocese to refuse communion to politicians promoting abortion, referring to a pending bill authored by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman who had denied the allegation.

Senator Panfilo Lacson called the stand of the Catholic Church on reproductive health bills "parochial."

Lacson is author of Senate Bill No. 43, which encourages the adoption of a reproductive health and population management council to oversee the country's family planning program.