Pro-Life Victory in the Philippines!

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Months of prayer vigils, education initiatives and organized rallies by pro-life forces in the Philippines paid off when a controversial “reproductive health” (RH) bill failed to pass by the end of the legislative session in the House of Representatives.

The bill, which has been aggressively backed by UN population control organizations such as the UNFPA and other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), proposed national funding for reproductive health care services including birth control and condoms. This was the fifth time the legislature attempted to pass such a bill since 1998 in a predominately Catholic country where the Church has proven once again to be an effective leader in the drive to kill the bill.

According to LifeSiteNews, the pro-life response to the bill was led by the nation’s influential Catholic bishops, who warned the government that passage of the bill would enshrine a contraceptive mentality that will eventually lead to abortion. They urged lawmakers to promote moral measures such as natural family planning instead. In response to threats that pro-lifers could be imprisoned for not obeying the bill’s dictates, some bishops advocated for “civil disobedience” should the law pass.

“The arrogance of sterile Western elites trying to tell Filipinos how to be ‘responsible parents’ is truly stunning,” said Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of Human Life International. “But Christians are united against the bill. The Catholic Church is seeing strong leadership from its bishops and priests, and they are standing united with fellow Christians around the Philippines. They realize the mortal threat that the RH bill represents to their families and their future, and the more that people learn about it, the more vehemently they oppose it.”

Supporters of the bill say that the Philippines has the highest fertility rate in Southeast Asia at 3.3 percent, as well as the highest population growth at two percent. As a result, it is the second most populous nation in the region – behind Indonesia – with 92 million people. According to government statistics, almost 33 percent live on less than a dollar a day. 

But the Church does not see people as the problem in the Philippines.

“The population is not a problem,” said Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Family and Life Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to IRIN News last November. “We are of the firm conviction that there is no need to legislate a national law on birth control. What the poor people need [from the government] is not contraception, but employment and economic opportunities.”

The people apparently agree with the Church because despite numerous efforts to enact such a bill, it has once again failed to pass.

“All of the wealthy NGOs  who saw this as their best chance to pass the RH bill are discouraged that they still don’t have a majority in this pro-life, pro-family country,” said Rene Bullecer, MD, country director for Human Life International (HLI) Philippines. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, but they have not been able to overcome the power of truth and of prayer. Still, we know that they will not give up and that their pockets are bottomless, so we still have lots of work to do before the next session begins.”

Msgr. Barreiro agrees and knows that the bill will probably be taken up again in the next legislative session, which begins in May.

“This is definitely a victory for life and family,” added Msgr. Barreiro. “But it is only temporary—it is not the end of the war. We and our partners will continue to grow the opposition to this destructive bill.”

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