EU might withhold aid if Philippine population bill not passed

With population control legislation still pending in the Philippines Congress, a representative of the European Union has tried to give it a push by suggesting that aid from Europe could depend on the country having such a programme in place. Alistair McDonald, head of the European Commission’s delegation to the Philippines said aid money would be less likely to go to waste if the population is kept in check.

"Certainly the effectiveness of ODA (official development assistance) and health assistance, especially, is better when population management exists so that there is a clear direction where the money is going. But it is also dependent on the effectiveness of government spending," said Mr. McDonald in an informal meeting with the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation -- an NGO with funding from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Mr McDonald added that the EC “would definitely make a stronger statement on the importance of population to development in the upcoming Philippine Development Forum."

In the House of Representatives, 113 out of 238 members support HB 5043, an “Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for Other Purposes”. A counterpart bill in the Senate (identical, except for the removal of penalties for “malicious disinformation” about the population policy that is in the House bill) is still being discussed by a technical working group.

Representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines walked out of Senate meeting on the bill last month, saying that the working group had ignored its objections. The Bishops’ basic objection is that the proposed law would impose on all Filipinos, 80 per cent of whom are Catholic, a state-funded birth control system that is opposed to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and of marriage.

Polls show the population divided down the middle over the issue of a population policy -- which overseas groups and liberal Filipinos have been pushing for many years. The Ateneo, a Jesuit university in Manila, is openly supporting the population bill. The Spanish International Cooperation Agency also supports it and the coordinator-general , Jesus Molina, has said it is willing to provide “technical assistance” for population management programmes. ~ (Manila) Business World, Feb 2;

Update: Philippine Star, March 4


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