Manila, Philippines, Aug 6, 2012 / 23:08 pm
A “reproductive health” bill that would mandate sex education in schools and subsidize contraceptives will be “tragic and catastrophic” for Filipinos if it is passed into law, the Philippines’ Catholic bishops said.
The bill advanced in the Philippine Congress on Aug. 6 after 14 years of consideration.
“May God have mercy on our Congress,” said Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo of Jaro, former two-term president of the Philippines’ bishops conference.
The vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday but allies of President Benigno Aquino III held the vote Monday at a caucus of Liberal Party leaders and members.
Fr. Melvin Castro, head of the Catholic bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, criticized the way the bill advanced.
“They break their own rules. They really forced it today,” Fr. Castro said. “It’s railroading. They’re destroying the very essence of democracy.”
Fr. Castro said the president is “hard-hearted” for refusing to consider the concerns of bill opponents.
President Aquino has said the bill is needed to reduce high birthrates among the poor. It mandates “age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education” from fifth grade through high school.