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‘Condom war’ erupts on day of love

Church attacks free distribution in Manila, Cebu

‘Condom war’ erupts on day of love
Priests and seminarians join a march against a proposed birth control measure in the Philippines, Manila

February 14, 2011

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Several groups defied Church protests and took to the streets of at least two Philippine cities on St. Valentine’s Day to distribute condoms. “Love yourself. Love your partner. Love your family. Be safe. This is the message we want to convey to the public,” said Kaka Bag-ao, a lawmaker and rights activist from the Akbayan Party in the Philippine Congress. Akbayan distributed condoms in Metro Manila to raise awareness on reproductive health rights and secure public support for the passage of the Reproductive Health bill. In Cebu, health officials distributed some 10,000 condoms to sex workers and HIV-infected people on Monday. Dr. Ilia Tag-an, the city’s epidemiologist, said it was part of the government’s campaign to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids. She assured Church leaders, however, that the city’s health department is also promoting abstinence and faithfulness among couples. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had earlier called on the Department of Health not to distribute condoms on St. Valentine’s Day. Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said the distribution of condoms would send the wrong signal to the public, especially among youths, that it is all right to engage in sex as long as it is safe and protected. However Bag-ao said disagreed. “I think he is grossly misinformed about the sexual behavior of people. Even without condom distribution, people are having sex.... The message we want to convey is for the public to protect themselves and be responsible,” she said. Meanwhile, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo accused the condom distributers of insulting and embarrassing people, who were made to look as if they were planning to have sex on St. Valentine’s Day. “If they gave me condoms, I’d feel insulted. Do they think people don’t have self-control? Is that how they view people?” the bishop said. Related reports Birth control issue gets internationalized Filipino bishops urge ‘people power’ on RH bill Photo: Priests and seminarians join a march against a proposed birth control measure in the Philippines. PM13280.1641
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