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MANILA, Philippines -- The hierarchy of the Catholic church should open its doors for dialogue on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill with Congress leaders as well, not just with Malacanang.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the principal proponents of the bill, made this call following announcements by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle that the Church hierarchy is ready for the resumption of dialogues with Malacanang.
Lagman said he is prepared to have "enlightening sessions" with the religious representatives.
"Since the RH bill is pending in Congress, the call of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle for the resumption of dialogues should not be limited to Malacañang officials but must include Congressional leaders, particularly the major proponents of the measure," he said.
Lagman has put forward the following agenda:
- The central concept is freedom of informed choice on the use of family planning methods from the natural to the modern which are legal, medically safe, and truly effective;
- There shall be neither compulsion nor bias in favor of a particular family planning method;
- A full recognition that the Philippines has a population problem which is aggravated by limited resources and a precarious carrying capacity;
- There is an indubitable and empirical linkage between population and sustainable human development, including poverty;
- No human development agenda is achievable without addressing the issue on population;
- The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly on improvement of maternal health, reduction of infant mortality, attainment of universal primary education, and eradication of extreme poverty and hunger can be made more attainable with the passage of the RH bill;
- The RH bill envisions a comprehensive and nationwide policy on responsible parenthood, family planning, and population development which is not particularly addressed by existing laws and changing policies; and
- There is need to institutionalize and codify related statutes and policies on reproductive health, women’s rights, child nutrition and protection, prevention of violence against women and allied concerns, and earmark adequate funding.