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Filipino bishops ‘more popish than Pope,’ says RH bill advocate

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A women’s rights group labeled Filipino bishops as “more popish than the Pope“ by their going against the Reproductive Health Bill because it advocates the use of condom in family planning.

”The problem with Filipino bishops and those who are against the RH bill, including some anti-choice legislators, is that they are more popish that the pope,” said EnGendeRights, Inc.

Its executive director, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, was referring to a reported declaration of Pope Benedict XVI “that using condoms may be justified to stop the spread of AIDS.”

At a press briefing on Monday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also called on local bishops to listen to the Pope, insinuating that church leaders support the passage of the RH Bill, now being debated in Congress. “If the Pope has spoken, maybe the bishops should follow,” Lacierda said.
But the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines stands its ground, reiterating it will wait for an official instruction from the Vatican. Malacanang says it is pushing for “responsible parenthood.”

Investing in People, which includes a healthy, nourished, secured and educated population, is one of the criteria or benchmarks of the US$ 434 million compact grant signed in September between President Benigno Aquino III and the Millennium Challenge Corporation for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

They are similar benchmarks for MDGs set by the United Nations, for which bilateral and multilateral aid from such countries as Spain and the European Union are provided to the Philippines.

”By justifying the use of condoms to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS, the Pope is making a realistic stance to address the spread of deadly virus which can be prevented by effective and consistent use of condoms and providing programs such as sex education to discuss vulnerabilities to infection, prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS,” Padilla continued.

”The Pope’s relaxed stance is an example of how religious morality should be in line with secular standards, public health and human rights.”

Citing sources, Padilla noted that “HIV incidence in the Philippines is steadily growing.”

Data of the National AIDS Registry showed there has been sudden increases in reported HIV positive cases yearly since 2007—54 per cent increase in 2008 compared to 2007 and 58 per cent increase from 2008 to 2009. At the start of 2010, there are already four new cases being reported every day compared to the two new cases reported daily in 2009.

Padilla added: “The Filipino bishops and the rest of the anti-choice groups should do intensive reflection on their stance against the RH bill and other issues related to sexual and reproductive health.”

“The executive branch of the government should actively implement the Magna Carta of Women which requires access to family planning methods and the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (Republic Act 8504) which requires HIV/AIDS education on transmission and prevention in local communities, in schools, health facilities, and workplaces,” she added.

By Gloria jane Baylon - PNA



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