In the News 2010

Catholic Group Backs DOH on Condom Use


A group of Catholics Monday pledged their support to the Department of Health (DoH) particularly on the agency’s stand on condom use.

Catholics for Choice president Jon O’ Brien lauded the efforts of Health Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral in promoting condom use, saying it will ‘undoubtedly save lives as we confront the HIV and AIDS epidemic.’

In a statement, the DoH said O’ Brien noted Cabral’s willingness to debate with the church on the effectiveness of the condom. “Cabral’s stance on the effectiveness of condom and her willingness to debate the bishops is not only making news internationally, but is also highlighting the Catholic hierarchy’s alleged interference in public policy.”

The DoH is mounting a seminar on HIV/AIDS this month and has invited the Catholic hierarchy to participate and give their views on the HIV/AIDS situation in the country.

This, despite the criticisms the DoH has received from the church and its supporting groups since it started distributing condoms last valentine’s day to curb the ‘expanding’ and ‘growing’ number of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines.

From 1984 to 2010, DoH recorded a total of 4,697 HIV cases where 835 were confirmed as AIDS cases. In February alone, 130 new HIV cases were recorded.

The DoH said it was recording a single case per month in 2008 but the figure doubled in 2009. It even rose to 4 cases per day on December of 2009.

O’ Brien said Cabral’s ‘willingness’ to ‘remind’ people on the importance of condoms to protect their lives and health is a ‘gesture of genuine concern.’

“It recognizes people’s ability to choose for themselves when it comes to issues affecting their health. It is also a position supported by Catholic social justice teaching and Catholics around the world,” he added in the statement.

In 2001, the Catholics for Choice launched a campaign called ‘Condoms4Life’ during the observance of the World AIDS Day. It was held in the United States, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Chile, Zimbabwe and the Philippines.

It was meant as the first phase to change the Vatican’s policy on condoms and challenge its aggressive lobbying against condoms in the ‘most-at-risk areas’ of the world. It was also done to raise awareness on ‘the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms,’ the statement said.

The DoH cited a 2007, Catholics for Choice survey in the Philippines which showed that 77 percent of Catholics believe in the life-saving effects of condoms and believe using condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS is pro-life.

This article originally appeared in the Manila Bulletin.

Catholics for Choice