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Philippines legislators backing away from population bill

.- Following opposition from Catholic laity and prelates, several representatives to the Philippines Congress have withdrawn their support for a pending population policy bill that recommends implementing a “two child” policy and funding sterilizations and the distribution of contraceptives.

Romblon Rep. Eleandro Madrona on Wednesday phoned Jose Corazon Talaoc, the Bishop of Romblon, to say he is backing out of the proposal, CBCP News reports.

Bishop Talaoc reacted by saying, “I am celebrating my fifth episcopal anniversary now so I think this is the best gift for me ever.”

“Rest assured that I will be backing out of the bill and I will always support the stand of the Church,” the bishop reported Madrona as saying. He also reported that he legislator will release a letter formally withdrawing his support.

Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza of the fourth district of Batangas has also stopped supporting the measure.

Ramon Arguelles, the Archbishop of Lipa whose archdiocese includes Mendoza’s district, said Mendoza apologized for his position in a June 28 letter in which he made known his “change of heart.”

Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, praised the lawmakers’ change of opinion.

“We praise and thank God. Our prayers and hope that many will follow suit,” he said. “We beg our lawmakers, whom we love and respect, to drop the entire bill altogether.”

The priest also repeated the criticism that the bill, titled “The Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008,” is a doorway to legal abortion in the country.

“Reproductive Health is not a natural word, it is an alternative word that includes abortion,” he argued.

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