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Priest hits out at Aquino over birth control

MANILA (Mabuhay) : The president of The Philippines, Noynoy Aquino, used his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to champion the population control policy of his administration and population control agenda in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23 and Father Melvin Castro, the executive secretary of the Commission on Family and Life is not amused.

He told CBCP News that it is now clear that the proposed Reproductive Bill, or the responsible parenthood bill, as Aquino likes to refer to it, is not about health, but about birth control.

“We are deeply saddened and disappointed about it,” Father Castro said.

Aquino laid out the plan of his administration to address the problems plaguing the education system, citing the shortage of textbooks and lack of classroom space.

“We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains, as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps responsible parenthood can help address this,” Aquino said in Tagalog.

The president has repeatedly said that his responsible parenthood policy is for a comprehensive health care programme for women and not population control.

“They’ve got so many excuses. In the end, it is about population control,” Father Castro repeated, speaking from a Family and Life Conference in Antipolo City. Father Castro also chided Aquino for using population control as the solution to the challenges that the education sector is facing.

“We do not see any connection between the education problem and the Reproductive Health Bill or his responsible parenthood, because these are about promoting and funding contraceptive usage,” he said.

Contrary to reports of a Philippine population explosion, he said that data from the National Statistics Office and the Population Commission show that there is a downtrend in the population growth rate.

“There’s something wrong with the president’s thinking and his solution to the problem,” added Father Castro.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines and even many health experts are strongly against Reproductive Health Bill because of its provisions that promote the use of contraceptives, which they deemed to be abortifacients, which induce abortion.

The bill requires large-scale government funding of artificial contraceptives. Its proponents claim the measure is the answer to the high maternity mortality rate and other health concerns.

Many critics, however, rejected the idea, saying necessary measures are already in place.

In his third SONA, Aquino cited economic progress as evidence that The Philippines is no longer the sick man of Asia.

Amid protests outside the congress building in Manila and regular applause from inside the chamber, Aquino said an increase in spending on education, health and housing, combined with successive upgrades to the country’s credit rating are the major success stories from his two years in the presidency.

UCA News reported that demonstrators engaged in a tense confrontation with police that resulted in stone-throwing and injuries to at least two photojournalists. They called on Aquino to address people’s issues including human rights, land reform and the environment.

The New Patriotic Alliance said Aquino was trying to fool the nation in his address.

“Many of the so-called achievements of this administration … are all quite meaningless to the ordinary Filipino facing high prices, landlessness and low wages,” the secretary general of Bayan, Renato Reyes, said.