MANILA, Philippines – Couples should be free to choose modern family planning methods such as condoms and other artificial means to prevent pregnancies, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona said on Wednesday.
Taking a break from the stand of the previous administration, Ona said the government has the duty to keep the public informed and educated on reproductive health programs.
"I believe in choice sa reproductive health kaya ho I believe na ipaalam sa ating mga couples lahat ng paraan kung gusto nilang mabigyan ang kanilang pamilya ng tulong (I believe that couples should be informed of all available means to help their families),” he said. “So it's full information and your choice."
He said the government will not discourage couples in using condoms.
“Condom? Siguro ang dami nang gumagamit dito eh (Many people are maybe already using them),” he said.
The Catholic Church has openly opposed plans by lawmakers to promote condom use and birth control pills to prevent unwarranted pregnancies. The leadership of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said values education and not a contraceptive mentality should be used to guide couples in planning their families.
The new health secretary, meanwhile, remained non-committal when asked about a proposal to increase taxes on cigarettes.
"Maraming mga bagay bagay na nasa tao, so called free choice, as long as ang full information ang binibigay natin (There are many things that people have the right to do which is called free choice),” he said. ”Ako as a doctor, di ko sinasabi sa pasyente wag mo gawin, binibigay ko lahat ng options. (As a doctor, I don’t tell a patient what he or she should not do. I give options.)” – With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News