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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Source: Manila Standard (Philippines)
Author: Fel V. Maragay

Senator Benigno Noynoy Aquino III said yesterday he would not give up his support for the use of artificial contraceptives to curb population growth even at the risk of incurring the ire of the Catholic Church.

Aquino said Catholic bishops should wake up to the reality that something must be done to arrest the rapid growth of the country's population, which now stands at 95 million or almost double the 50 million in 1986. There is really a problem. And I hope that the Church will see that I have the reasonableness of my position on the issue, he told newsmen.

Aquino, the declared presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, was unfazed by the threat of the Catholic Church to mount a campaign against candidates in the 2010 election who will defy its pro-life and pro-family stand.

Fe Melvin Castro, executive director of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said they will wage a campaign urging the faithful to vote only for candidates who will follow the Church's pro-life stand.

Earlier, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, expressed dismay over Aquino's sponsorship of the controversial reproductive health bill which, among others, promotes the use of artificial contraceptives.

The senator from Tarlac said he will seek a dialog with Cardinal Vidal to clarify his stand. Aquino said while he favors the use of artificial contraceptives, he does not believe that the State should force couples to practice them, including the use of birth control pills. I am encouraging the use of contraceptives. But that will be left to the conscience of the person, he said. In other countries, the government resorts to outright coercion of its citizens on the use of contraceptives and in limiting the number of children, which he described as wrong.

The State has no right to dictate to its citizens who they should plan their families. It can only provide guidance, Aquino said. He said it is the responsibility of the State to remind the citizens of their duty to take care of the needs of their children, including their education. Obviously, he said it is wrong for couples to have more children than their income could afford.

The senator from Tarlac denied that there is a provision in the RH bill that would allow abortion. Aquino said that he is proposing that Church leaders should be made to participate in population education program envisioned under the RH bill to enable them to present their side.

A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives was scheduled for plenary debate next week after the antis sought more time to study it.