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Aquino: Talks with bishops over family planning being set

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Aquino: Talks with bishops over family planning being set

Post by Justin_Romile on Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:32 am

Amid an ongoing row on the issue, President Benigno Aquino III is now working out a dialogue with Catholic bishops over the use of artificial contraception in population management.

But Aquino also appealed for sobriety on the issue, which he described as inflammatory, adding he is hopeful a consensus can eventually be reached.

“We are setting a dialogue with some bishops. We are working out the details to make sure as many bishops as possible can attend the meeting," Aquino told reporters after speaking at the launch of a government health insurance registration program in Manila.

He said he hopes the dialogue can eventually lead to a consensus from all parties concerned.

“Talaga namang inflammatory ang issue na yan, pero palagay ko basta magkaliwanagan lang sa kani-kanyang posisyon kung talagang naghahanap ng kaayusan at yung tinatawag na consensus, eh bakit hindi natin mararating yan," he said.

(This is an inflammatory issue but as long as we clear the air and explain our positions – that is if we are really looking for better understanding — there is no reason why we can’t reach a consensus.)

But he maintained the State has an obligation to educate all of its citizens as to their choices, adding it cannot dictate on any couple “how they should plan their families."

Government-run dzRB radio also reported Aquino maintained he did not violate any law when he adopted an open stance on the use of artificial contraceptives in population management.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said he is open to a dialogue as well as a friendly debate with Catholic Church officials on the matter, so couples will be better informed.

Ona said such debates on the use of natural family planning methods pushed by Church, as well as artificial methods, should help couples decide wisely.

“My position is that at the grassroots level, we can advocate both natural and artificial contraception. We can also promote both methods not in the spirit of fighting but in the spirit of debate, with the objective of informing couples of their options, and leaving them to decide on the matter," he said Filipino in a separate interview on dzRB radio.

“Siguro naman lahat tayo naniniwala na talagang kailangang tulungan natin ang ating mga couple na iplano ang kanilang pamilya (I think we all agree that we must help couples plan their families wisely)," he added.

Catholic Church officials locked horns anew with the government this week after Aquino told Filipinos in the United States of his open stance towards artificial contraceptive methods.

Last Thursday, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar told Church-run Radio Veritas Aquino may be excommunicated for such a stance.

In the interview, he said excommunication for Aquino is a “proximate possibility." But on Friday he issued a disclaimer where he denied ever threatening Aquino with it.

He also stressed the Church is open to a dialogue on the matter.

Prolife rallies

Meanwhile, prolife groups vowed to mount their own show of force after contraceptive advocates rallied and distributed condoms in Manila Friday in defiance of the Catholic Church’s stance against artificial methods.

Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer of Human Life International indicated they are eyeing Manila and Cebu as venues of their initial activities.

“We are going to stage a rally here (in Cebu) and we are also expecting a big event there in Manila," he said in an article posted Friday night on the Union of Catholic Asian News website.

He argued artificial contraceptives made users sick of “cancer, hypertension, leukemia and other illnesses."

Bullecer’s vow came after advocates of reproductive health rallied at Mendiola near Malacañang and at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines office in Intramuros.

They also protested the arrest of fellow Reproductive Health (RH) Bill advocate and tourist guide Carlos Celdran, who made a scene at a prayer service at the Manila Cathedral by dressing up as national hero Jose Rizal and showing a placard with the message “Damaso."

“Damaso" is a fictional priest who fathered a child in Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere."

On Friday, members of non-government organizations pushing for the approval of the RH bill in Congress rallied and distributed condoms in Manila.

Protesters said they support President Aquino in his recent “quarrel with Church leaders" over the use of artificial contraceptives in family planning.

— LBG, GMANews.TV

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Justin_Romile

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