Bishops to campaign vs pro-birth control hopefuls

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — INFLUENTIAL Roman Catholic bishops will call on the faithful not to vote for candidates who support a bill promoting birth control, a senior bishop said yesterday.

“If you know of a congressman or senator who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill, my request and that of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to the citizens is not to vote for them in the next elections,” Bishop Arturo Bastes said.

Bastes, who is a commission chairman in the CBCP, added that the church, which counts more than 80 percent of Filipinos as followers, will continue to fight the passage of the family planning bill in Congress.

He said legislators who support the reproductive health bill would pay a political price in the national elections next year when voters choose new local officials, a new legislature and a new president.

“We hope that they will learn a lesson because by voting for it (the bill), they are endangering the Filipino family,” the bishop said.

The bill, now pending in Congress, will make family planning services more available to the public and will include sex education for students and advice on artificial contraception, which the church considers immoral.

The church is set firmly against the bill but independent surveys show that more than 80 percent of Filipinos support family planning.

International agencies and economists have called for the enactment of a family planning program in the Philippines where the population now stands at around 90 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.04 percent, one of the highest in Asia.