MANILA, Philipphines – A Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official on Tuesday criticized President Aquino for pitching the Responsible Parenthood Bill during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Fr. Melvin Castro, CBCP’s executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said CBCP was saddened when Aquino expressed his support during the SONA for the Responsible Parenthood Bill, Malacañang's own version of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill which is still pending in Congress.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed about it,” Castro told CBCP News.
In his speech, Aquino said he hopes the bill would finally solve the backlog in the country’s public school system.
"Sana nga po, ngayong paubos na ang backlog sa edukasyon, sikapin nating huwag uling magka-backlog dahil sa dami ng estudyante. Sa tingin ko po, responsible parenthood ang sagot dito," Aquino said in his speech.
The remark was one of the most-applauded portions of Aquino's SONA.
Although the President did not specifically mention the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill that is still pending in Congress, his statement is being viewed as an endorsement of the measure.
Castro, however, said he is not accepting Aquino’s excuse in endorsing the bill, noting that “in the end, it is about population control.”
“We do not see any connection between the education problem and the RH bill or his responsible parenthood because these are about promoting and funding of contraceptive usage,” he said.
“There’s something wrong with the President’s thinking and his solution to the problem,” he added.
Malacañang had laid out its 5-point position on responsible parenthood.
- Aquino is against abortion.
- He is in favor of giving couples the right to choose how best to manage their families so that in the end, their welfare and that of their children are best served.
- Aquino believes that the state must respect each individual’s right to follow his or her conscience and religious convictions on matters and issues pertaining to the unity of the family and the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.
- In a situation where couples, especially the poor and disadvantaged ones, are in no position to make an informed judgment, the state has the responsibility to provide.
- In the range of options and information provided to couples, natural family planning and modern methods shall be presented as equally available, Aquino said.
Despite Aquino’s objection to abortion, the CBCP still rejected the controversial bill because of its provision that would widen access to contraceptives.
The Church is also dismissing the bill proponents’ argument that the measure would lessen maternal mortality and other reproductive illnesses, saying that measures addressing these problems are already in place. – with CBCP News and Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com