MANILA, Philippines?Shortly after his combative speech at the University of the Philippines graduation rites, President Benigno Aquino III made it clear that a responsible parenthood program under his administration would make natural and modern family planning methods ?equally available? to couples.
The President issued the clarification in a five-point declaration titled ?President Aquino?s stand on responsible parenthood.? It was posted at the Official Gazette (www.gov.ph) on the same day he told UP graduates that he would ensure that such a law was passed under his watch despite strong opposition from Catholics and other pro-life advocates.
?I am against abortion,? Mr. Aquino said in the declaration, adding that he was in favor of ?giving couples the right to choose how best to manage their families so that in the end, their welfare and that of their children are best served.?
?In a situation where couples, especially the poor and disadvantaged ones, are in no position to make an informed judgment, the State has the responsibility to so provide,? he said.
?In the range of options and information provided to couples, natural family planning and modern methods shall be presented as equally available.?
The President also gave premium on individual conscience, the primacy of which Church leaders and moral theologians have long maintained could not be made the sole barometer of sound judgment.
But Mr. Aquino, a Catholic, said: ?The State must respect each individual?s right to follow his or her conscience and religious convictions on matters and issues pertaining to the unity of the family and the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.?
In his message for Easter Sunday, the most important day for Catholics, the President took yet another swipe at the previous administration, saying it left him a ?calvary? of problems to solve.
He urged the public to keep faith in the campaign against graft and corruption, the overriding theme of his 10-month-old administration.
Mr. Aquino asked the faithful to draw on the ?spirit? Jesus Christ?s sacrifice to realize their contribution in putting an end to corruption.