Civil society, religious groups in De Oro want dialogue on RH issue

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/25 March) – Civil society organizations and lay religious groups in the city want open and fair discussion and dialogue on the controversial reproductive health legislation in Congress.

In their presentation to the President in a town hall-like meeting with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Wednesday at Pilgrim Christian College, the CSOs and lay religious groups said that there is more need to discuss the RH issue, a stand that digresses from the usual stance of religious groups who are vehemently opposed to the proposed RH Bill now being deliberated in the 15th Congress.

In his response, the President welcomed more discussion on the issue even as he reiterated his administration’s stand which recognizes the severity of the population problem in the country. He said that there is a need to reckon with the reality that every year, 2.5 million more Filipinos are born.

He added that if appropriate maternal health care are afforded mothers, the population growth could even reach 3 million a year.

The President said that he believes in a policy that addresses both maternal health issues and at the same time addressing the population growth.

“We cannot close our eyes on the reality of our huge population, that is why the state should address it along with other issues like maternal and child health,” the President said.

The centerpiece of the government’s policy, he said, is the promotion of responsible parenthood, which include raising the awareness of those in reproductive age about the consequences, good or bad, of bearing children.

“Alam ho naman natin that for every Filipino born and if di natin natugunan ang malaking population growth, government’s resources will further be strained,” he said.

He, however, clarified that his administration is against abortion.

Advocates of the RH Bill, lodged as House Bill 5043 in the 15th Congress, and the anti-RH groups lead by the Roman Catholic church have been engaged in a protracted, often bitter debate on the measure.

The stand of CSOs here articulated last Wednesday came as a surprise as among the groups involved in crafting the position is the law religious group of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro named Conversation, the Jesuit-run Xavier University and other religious groups. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)