MANILA, Philippines (PNA) — President Benigno Aquino III is not affected by the threat of an official of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of being ex-communicated for supporting the Reproductive Health (RH) bill being pushed in the Lower House.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Friday, President Aquino is not at all affected by the threat of CBCP President and Tandag Archbishop Nereo Odchimar that the Chief Executive might be subject to excommunication from the Catholic Church if will support the use of contraceptive for artificial birth control.
President Aquino on Thursday night issued a statement regarding the threat of the CBCP leader.
”We are all guided by our conscience. My position has not changed. The state’s duty is to educate our families as to their responsibilities and to respect their decisions if they are in conformity to our laws,” President Aquino said in a statement.
According to Sec. Lacierda, the President’s position is to support the responsible parenthood and give the couples their choices on how to plan their family.
Lacierda added, the government is waiting for the response of the Catholic Church leadership on the offer of President Aquino for a dialogue to resolve the issue.
Bishop Odchimar threatened that Aquino might be subject to religious censure if the President will insists on his stance that Filipino couples should be given the choice to use artificial contraceptives.
Odchimar also advised President Aquino to consider the position of the Catholic Church before making his stance on the RH bill issues.
But the President maintained his stance on responsible parenthood and also said in his statement that the state should respect the choices couples make on the kind of birth control method they want to use.
Aquino said during a meeting with a Filipino community in San Francisco last week, that the government "is obligated to inform everybody of their responsibility and their choices, at the end of the day government might provide assistance to those who are without means if they want to employ a particular method."
But Sec. Lacierda insisted that the President’s stand on family planning does not mean he is automatically supporting the RH bill now re-filed in the Lower House.
According to President’s spokesman, Mr. Aquino will study the RH bill now filed in the House of Representatives.
Another CBCP official, Fr. Melvin Castro, also earlier threatened to stage protest actions particularly ‘civil disobedience’ over the government’s plan to distribute condoms and pills to Filipino couples.
The Catholic Church promotes only natural family planning and is opposed to the use of artificial birth control methods such as condoms and birth-control pills, saying these could lead to promiscuity and a rise in abortion cases.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said that the statement of Odchimar does not reflect the stand of the CBCP on the excommunication threat against the President on family planning issue.
According to Bishop Bastes, it is the personal view of Bishop Odchimar and is not the official statement of the CBCP.