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Church official 'is misleading public'

Executive secretary of commission 'made false claim'

Church official 'is misleading public'
Representative Edcel Lagman (right) joins other lawmakers in pushing for the birth control bill (photo courtesy of Macky Macaspac/Pinoy Weekly) reporter, Manila

February 22, 2011

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The main proponent of the reproductive health (RH) bill in the Philippine Congress has accused an official of the Catholic Church of misleading the public on the reported US government's withdrawal of funds for contraceptives. Representative Edcel Lagman said Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic bishops' conference, made a false claim to discredit the proposed measure in Congress. "What the US House of Representatives defunded was limited to financial assistance to private entities performing abortions, but no funds were withheld for contraceptives for family planning and for legal abortion performed in hospitals," Lagman said. Father Castro earlier called on Philippine legislators to follow the example of the US and block funding for contraceptives by rejecting the controversial RH bill. "If the US Congress defunded such entity, we ask our Congress to reject the RH bill which has the same effect of allocating people’s money against what they believe in," Father Castro said. "Ours is a poor country. We have to do something before it’s too late for us to realize that the RH bill is wrong and spent millions of pesos for its implementation," the priest said. "We ask our government and our legislators, let us not follow their mistakes of the past, and then only to realize we have to correct it in the future," he added. Lagman, however, said Father Castro "is utterly misinformed about the US defunding measure or he is conveniently misleading the public." PM13388.1642

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