Philippines: Mindanao: young Christians and Muslims against the law on birth control

world | Nov 29, 2011 | By Asia News

Zamboanga - Young Christians and Muslims in Mindanao, are saying no to the controversial law on birth control for months awaiting parliament’s final approval. Today, about 100 students of the Interfaith Council of Leaders, a group born in the Silsilah movement for interreligious dialogue, met in Basilan (Mindanao) to discuss the topic of abortion and family planning as a solution to poverty. The event takes place one day after the attack on the 'Asturias Hotel in Zamboanga, which left 3 dead and 27 wounded. The explosion occurred during the wedding of a Christian couple. According to the police the Islamic terrorists of Abu Sayyaf are behind the atatck.

Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Zamboanga and founder of Silsilah, notes the desire of many young people to work together, despite the fear, the mistrust and tensions. He said that Muslim students who participated in the Law on family planning advocate the position of the Church, contrary to the policies of the Act which provide for distribution of condoms, abortion pills and forced sterilizations. "The young people returned very excited about the meeting - said the priest - this is an important sign, especially in this period when the debate has passed into the background because of the trial of former President Gloria Arroyo."

The debate on the Reproductive Health Bill has been ongoing for four years. It rejects clinical abortion, but promotes a family planning program, urging couples to have no more than two children, penalizes conscientious objection of doctors and health professionals and promotes voluntary sterilization. Church and Catholic associations argue the Natural Family Programme (NFP), which aims to spread a culture of responsibility and love based on Christian values among the population.

These days, Edcel Lagman, one of the main promoters of the law, called on the lower house to stop the continual requests for discussion of the decree and set a date for final approval. Local sources say this is a way to put pressure on President Aquino, who for months continues to postpone the vote of the law not to lose the favor of the Catholic Church.

Catholics especially complain of the excessive funds necessary to implement the contents of the law, amounting to over 50 million Euros. They will go to sex education programs in all schools across the country, public and private, including primary. In a recent meeting in Manila organized by the young pro-life association of Youth United for the Manila (YUP), some experts pointed out that the problem of poverty can not be defeated by fewer children, but supporting education, businesses and associations that help the poor. According to them, the amount paid by the State to implement the norm is an unnecessary expense. This sum would cover the expenses of more than 4 thousand classrooms, fund scientific research of over 300 thousand students, create scholarships for thousands of poor students and pay the salaries of around 13 t

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