MANILA - Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal on Monday said he is thinking of withdrawing support from Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III after learning that the lawmaker supports the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
Vidal said he was "dismayed" when he found out that Aquino is part of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, a group that supports the RH bill or "The Reproductive Health and Population Development Bill (House Bill No. 5043/ Senate Bill No. 3122).
(Read Aquino et al's policy brief on the RH Bill here)
"[Aquino] is a co-author, not [just a] co-sponsor [of the bill]. And that was something. I was disappointed because that means to say if that is true, then there is somehow a kind of anti-life tendency," Vidal said in an interview with ABS-CBN News in Cebu.
Vidal said he is considering putting Aquino under a list of politicians "whom people should not vote for." ]
"If he will continue that then I will tell him straight, I have told my people not to elect people who have sponsored... this bill. We need to defend the doctrine of God and the Church, we cannot abandon that," he added.
The archbishop had previously been pleased with Aquino's decision to run for the 2010 presidential elections.
"I am very happy that he decided at last," Vidal had said in reaction to Aquino's announcement of candidacy on September 10 at the Club Filipino.
'State has a duty'
Aquino said that he is not technically campaigning for the use of contraceptives.
He said, however, that Cardinal Vidal should understand the need for the state to impose measures against the country's rapidly increasing population.
"Ang sa akin lang, ang sinasabi ko, at sana makita naman ng simbahan, eh risonable naman ang posisyon ko. May obligasyon ang estado na ipaalaala na may responsibilidad ang mga magulang. Iyon bang pag-aaruga ng kanilang mga anak," he told reporters on Monday.
(For me, what I am saying is, I hope the Church understands that my position is reasonable. The state has an obligation to remind parents about their responsibilities like taking care of their children.)
Aquino said he will talk to Cardinal Vidal if he accepts an appointment. Vidal, a supporter of Aquino's mother (the late president Corazon "Cory" Aquino), said he is ready to face Aquino and other presidential aspirants about their plans for the country.
According to the National Statistics Office, as of August 2007, the country has 88.57 million Filipinos.
This is projected to grow to 92.23 million this year. A key provision of the RH Bill, which in part seeks to curb the country's population problem, is to provide access to family planning and contraceptives.
The bill also seeks to increase awareness and information on family planning and pre-natal care in order to curb mother and infant mortality, abortions, violence against women and other reproductive health problems.
The Catholic Church strongly opposes the use of contraception, saying this is an "anti-life" policy.
Proponents of the RH Bill, like Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, argue that the RH Bill is "pro-life" because the bill aims to save the lives of mothers and children through adequate healthcare methods. Report by Mary Ann Uy, ABS-CBN Central Visayas.