MANILA, Jan. 24, 2011â€” Overpopulation causing poverty is not a byline of the Aquino administration, ranking government officials said.
In Mondayâ€™s continuation of the dialogue between MalacaÃ±ang and the Catholic bishops, they agreed that the great challenge to development is not demographic explosion.
In a press briefing, Msgr. Juanito Figura, CBCP secretary general, said they are elated with how the dialogue is doing, which means â€œwe are beginning to see things clearer.â€
He said they were assured by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman that the government does not tie population with economic crisis.
â€œSecretary Soliman herself said she does not recall any cabinet cluster meeting saying that population is the cause of poverty,â€ said Figura.
â€œInstead, she said that the main concern of the government is to ensure that parents take good care of their children.â€
The CBCP official also quoted Health Secretary Enrique Ona as saying that the governmentâ€™s â€œresponsible parenthoodâ€ program has nothing to do with controlling the population.
â€œSecretary Ona later added that responsible parenthood supports poverty reductionâ€¦ it has nothing to do with population growth or population reduction,â€ he said.
Proponents of the reproductive health (RH) bill have pointed the finger at the countryâ€™s growing population as a cause of underdevelopment.
The church was also assured during the dialogue that there is â€œno compulsionâ€ from the government on the size of family and on the use of contraceptives and sterilization services, Figura said.
â€œSecretary Ona emphasized that there are no quotas on contraceptives and sterilization services imposed on health workers,â€ he said. â€œIn fact, he advised that reports of instances of coercion be brought to his office directly.â€
â€œThe government panel also said they respect the religious conviction of couples in their decision regarding the size of their family and spacing in their children,â€ Figura added.
The CBCP official, however, said that declaring that the Aquino administration is going soft on the RH bill is still â€œpremature.â€
â€œWe are beginning to know more of their side and they are beginning to know our side. As to where this is heading to, itâ€™s a bit early to predict or comment on that now. But itâ€™s helping us a lot,â€ he said. (CBCPNews)