Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The last act for the entry into force of the "Reproductive Health Bill" is President Benigno Aquino’s signature, which will take place by the end of 2012: it was announced by the President himself, on the margin of the approval of the budget of the state. The Philippine Parliament gave a favorable opinion with regards to the law in two sessions: the first Chamber, then the Senate, where the measure on Monday 17 recorded 13 votes in favor and 8 against. Now a plenary session of both Houses is expected to harmonize the two texts, and then the presidential ratification, which will mark the entry into force of the law. The legislation provides for state funding to family planning and birth control, including campaigns to facilitate access to contraceptives.
The Catholic Church, which, with pro-life groups has fought against this law, expressed herself with harsh words to President Aquino. Mgr. Gabriel Reyes, Bishop of Antipolo and President of the Episcopal Commission "family and life," declared his concern for the nation: "It is already like dictatorship, because the government controls Congress and the judiciary," he said in a note sent to Fides Agency. The Bishop, as many other observers, claim that the President had "bought consensus" using the "pork barell," the contribution that MPs receive to finance specific projects in their districts of origin. At least five members of Congress and other parliamentarians, the Bishop remarks, "have changed their position due to pressure from Malacañang," adding that "this may become a threat to the country's democracy." The Bishop of Bacalod, Mgr. Vicente M. Navarra, on his behalf urged the faithful to "obey God, not men."
In the state budget, just approved, for the Ministry of Health 51.1 billion pesos have been allocated, as confirmed by the government, including funds to provide sex education to students, and to provide public assistance on contraceptives and methods of planning family. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/12/2012)