Control dengue not population, Marbel bishop tells gov't

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 October) – Government resources were better spent on fighting the unabated rise in dengue cases than on promoting reproductive health-related programs especially the use of contraceptives, a leader of the Catholic Church here said.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel today said the continuing spread of the deadly dengue virus and not the reproductive health issue currently appears as the most pressing health concern of residents in most parts of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao and should be given more attention by the Department of Health and health experts.

The Diocese of Marbel covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and this city, areas which recorded an unusually-high dengue incidence during the last nine months.

“They’d (health personnel) be more useful to our residents if they put in more time and effort in effectively curbing dengue cases instead of thinking about distributing condoms,” the bishop said.

Gutierrez issued the statement shortly after the national government announced it would continue distributing contraceptives and promoting artificial birth control methods as a strategy to curb the country’s ballooning population and widespread poverty.

President Beningno Simeon Aquino III earlier drew criticisms from the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after personally endorsing the use of contraceptives and the promotion of reproductive health programs, especially among poor folks.

But the bishop said the President’s “Matuwid na Daan (upright way)” campaign would be more effective in fighting poverty than in pursuing reproductive health programs.

“He can do that by making true with his campaign to weed out corruption from the government, especially in the highest levels,” Gutierrez said.

He said Aquino may effectively address the problem further by ensuring enough appropriation for education programs and offering “education for all” as well as opening more livelihood and job opportunities across the country.

He advised the President to “trust in God” as he stressed that the issues on reproductive health have moral dimensions.

“The (Catholic) church’s pursuit focuses on faith and morals. And so by opposing the government’s reproductive health programs, it is exercising its competence and is not meddling (with its affairs),” he said.

Gutierrez said they have not considered leading a civil disobedience campaign over their opposition to the government’s reproductive health initiatives as there are more effective avenues in resolving the matter.

“The best way to challenge this move is by educating the people and that’s what we’ve committed to do,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)