Residents protest Philippines to scrap planned ‘condom bill’
Three United Nations agencies urged the Philippine government to pass the controversial reproductive health or family planning bill to cope with the growing problem of pervasive poverty and more young Filipino women getting pregnant.
The call was made as thousands of the Catholic faithful on Saturday defied heavy rains to gather at the historic Edsa Shrine near the Philippine military national headquarters to oppose the passage of the measure.
In separate messages, the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Programme on HIV/AIDS cited the urgent need to enact the measure to achieve the health-related targets in the country’s Millenium Development Goals particularly maternal health and infant mortality.
Ugochi Florence Daniels, the UNFPA country coordinator, said the bill is vital to enable couples to decide on the size of their families by making information and family planning services available to them.
The proposal, considered a priority bill of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, mandates the purchase of contraceptives especially condom and the Pill for distribution to poor couples who want to limit the number of their children under the principle of informed choice.
Dr Soe Nyunt U, the WHO country representatives, pointed out that the issue of reproductive health and responsible parenthood is the same across the Asia-Pacific region and “should not be misused as a political tool.”
On Saturday, the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines sponsored a prayer-rally called “Prayer Power Against the RH (reproductive health) Bill” to oppose the measure.(The Gulf Today)