Aquino proves influence in bill on contraceptives

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The Philippines’ Congress has finally passed a bill on promoting state-funded contraceptive, underscoring president Benigno Aquino’s influence on the legislature and his defiance of Roman Catholic bishops opposed to the measure.

The legislature’s two chambers, dominated by Mr Aquino’s allies, yesterday approved the reproductive health bill two days before members adjourn for Christmas holidays. Mr Aquino had certified it as an urgent measure.

The legislation requires governments down to village level to provide free or low-cost reproductive health services. The law will not promote abortion, which is illegal.

“It’s a gift to my constituents,” said Janette Garin, one of the bill’s principal authors.

The passage of the bill ended about 13 years of debate on the contraceptive measure, seen by proponents as a human rights issue but opposed by Catholic bishops on moral grounds.