13-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Philippines' House advances population control bill

The Philippines' House of Representatives moved ahead with a reproductive health bill Dec. 13, in a move opposed by the Catholic Church.

"The vote in favor of the RH bill in Congress is unfortunate and tragic," said Cardinal Luis A. Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila.

The legislation would mandate sex education in schools from fifth grade on, and would subsidize contraceptives as part of a population control program.

Manny Pacquiao, a House representative from Sarangani province and world-renowned boxer, voted against the bill today, shortly after his knockout loss in Las Vegas on Dec. 8.

"What happened in Vegas strengthened my already firm belief in the sanctity of life, on whether a person's right to live in this world should be put in the hands of his fellow men. Only God has the right over this," he said on the House floor before casting his vote.

President Benigno Aquino III has prioritized the bill's passage, and says the bill is needed to reduce high birthrates among the poor.

Lawmakers voted 113-104 in favor of the bill on its second reading. It will face a third and final reading in the House on Dec. 17. The Senate is due to give the bill a second and third reading next week.

The House and Senate versions would then have to be reconciled in the new year, before it could be signed by Aquino.

Cardinal Tagle said that despite the bill's advancement, the Church will not concede defeat on the issue.

"We do not take it as a defeat of truth - for truth shall prevail, especially the truth about human life, marriage and the family," he stated.

"This vote leads us to further commit the Church, specifically the Archdiocese of Manila to the service of the poor, of the family, of women, of infants and children."

Representative Pablo Garcia of Cebu said the bill is "more concerned with couples' safe and satisfying sex lives" than with the sanctity of married and family life.

This paralleled the view of Bishop Pedro D. Arigo, vicar apostolic of Puerto Princesa, who said the bill's advancement represented "money over principles, convenience over morality."

Backers of the bill are playing political hardball to force its passage. A lawmaker from the impoverished Samar Island said funding for several relief projects for his district has been threatened if he does not vote for the bill.

Aquino's Liberal Party has backed the bill because of supposed economic need. The nation, which is roughly 80 percent Catholic, had a fertility rate of 3.3 children per woman between 2005 and 2010. Yet the growth of GDP in those years has been as high as 7.6 percent, and was 3.7 percent in 2011.

Opponents of the bill hope that its third hearing Monday will be defeated with the help of 64 representatives who were absent or abstained from the Dec. 13 vote.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=6720#ixzz2F4WWGYKB

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