Sunday, 12 April 2009

Philippine president's pro-Life stand mainly a matter of morals

By Angelo S. Samonte
Manila Times
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2009/april/12/yehey/top_stories/20090412top1.html

The first and main reason for President Gloria Arroyo’s and her Cabinet’s pro-Life stand in support of the Roman Catholic Church’s position is morals and ethics. [This is what] Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told The Manila Times ... in an interview for this special report timed for Easter Sunday, which celebrates LIFE in capital letters.

Today Christendom joyfully commemorates the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Christian theology, Christ is God who became the man Jesus to redeem mankind. God in His human nature as Jesus allowed himself to suffer pain and humiliations of Calvary and death on the Cross. God’s aim: To give each man and woman a chance to experience the same resurrection of the body that Jesus experienced.

Secretary Remonde told The Times it was a matter of high principles, not merely to be on the good side of the Catholic bishops, that moved the President to adopt the Church’s teachings about the dignity of human life.

That is why her stand is counter that of some of her key allies--like Congressman Edcel Lagman, who is the main sponsor of the Reproductive Health bill that the Catholic Church as well as several mainstream Protestant churches oppose.

Her pro-Life personal principles do not only cover the issue of population control through artificial means that are generally abortion-inducing (or abortifacients). The President, Secretary Remond reminded The Times, is also against the execution of criminals.

This is why—-despite the unjust claims of anti-Arroyo politicians and activists-—the President, according to Remonde, is earnestly seeking to stop such ugly things as extrajudicial killings and the so-called Davao Death Squad.

Mrs. Arroyo has repeatedly said [that she] is standing by her policy of natural birth control, the same position taken by Catholic bishops lobbying against the pending Reproductive Health bill that its opponents have seen to ultimately promote abortion and immoral sexual habits.

Remonde said the President personally believes that it is morally upright to adopt the pro-Life stance and its emphasis on curtailing sexuality and continence.

The Press secretary also said it is Mrs. Arroyo’s deep conviction that it is the obligation of the Chief Executive to support the life of every citizen and nurture it-—from conception.

Remonde mentioned a second reason for Mrs. Arroyo’s pro-Life policy position: ... the administration has proven by its programs that the natural family planning methods advocated by the church are more effective in arriving at a proper decrease in births and the ability to maintain the ideal population figure.

“Recent statistics shows that having this pro-Life policy has effectively controlled population growth compared to previous years,” Remonde said, when the government was pushing contraceptives. “The administration is firm in maintaining this position because with this policy we can effectively have the ideal number of people and not have the aging problem in Japan, Korea, Singapore and the West.”

In an earlier interview with The Times, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said 2008 statistics show that the country’s population started to manifest some decline despite the administration’s pro-Life position.

Recto said that with this figure, reversing the government policy toward population was no longer be necessary because most Filipinos have started to limit the number of their children through natural means.

The third reason, Remond said, why the administration adopts such policy is because the pro-life stand is that of the dominant religious organization and therefore the religion with the most number of citizens.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in interview that the Palace will not meddle in stormy deliberations on the Reproductive Health bill at the House of Representatives.

He said the President is standing firm on her official position on the Reproductive Health bill and it would be up to her allies to make their own decisions.

Asked if Arroyo would veto the measure if it got passed, Ermita said he couldn’t anticipate what the President want to do.

Most knowledgeable observers of Malacañang, however, see that she would veto it.

In his conversations with lawmakers, Ermita said it appeared that the prevailing sentiment was for non-passage of the measure because of the Church’s opposition.

President Arroyo has made clear that Cabinet members should toe the line on her policy on population management.

Some pro-life activists have complained however that lower-rank officials and some local governments are pushing for contraceptives.

Secretary Remonde also told The Times that the President and most of her cabinet members saw that the countries which aggressively pushed contraceptives to reduce their populations have ended up having serious aging, moral—-high divorce rates, teenage and subteen pregnancies, for example-—and health problems, like high incidence of AIDS and cancer in women.

It is quite well-known that Thailand, which is always mentioned as being better than the Philippines in reducing its population through artificial birth-control methods, has up to 90-percent more AIDS cases than the Philippines.

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