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Drop birth control focus, Aquino says

President seeks dialogue on poverty and peace where bishops and he 'can agree'

President Aquino President Aquino
  • Manuel T. Cayon, Davao City
  • Philippines
  • May 19, 2011
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President Benigno Aquino yesterday urged the Catholic Church to work with his government on issues they “agree” on rather than engage in heated discussions over the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill now being debated in Congress.

“I urge the Church to work with us instead on the many areas where we do agree: poverty alleviation, peace and order, and perhaps, even responsible mining. Let us work together,” Aquino said.

Addressing the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) , he said the issue of legislated provisions for the reproductive health of women “does not have to be as divisive as it has become.”

In arguing for a reproductive health law, Aquino said he would not forget the boy he saw in a hospital in Manila on Tuesday and the girl who already has two young children at the age of 16.

“I got the feeling that simply, from a simple lack of resources, this little kid probably had already lost his childhood,” he said.

On the teenage mother, he said she is supposed to be attending proms and studying for college entrance exams.

“[Instead,] she is already facing the challenge of raising two children. She went from childhood to motherhood with no decent high school education. Who is responsible for this? What brought about this situation?” Aquino said.

“This is why it is important for us to talk about responsible parenthood. We need legislation that prevents this tragedy from happening,” he added.

He said his administration had worked with the Catholic Church before, citing discussions on how to address the social concerns of the Basic Ecclesial Communities,  for instance.

“Other than the RH, [they] have raised the issues about flooding, deforestation and crime, which my administration has addressed,” he said.

He declined to further comment on the bill and the discussions in the house of representatives.
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