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Protection of Conscience Project

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Repression of Conscience

Two-Child Policy Stalled in Filipino Congress; Lack of Support Cited

C-Fam Friday Fax February 24, 2006.
Volume 9, Number 10Copyright 2006 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
Bradford Short

Proposed legislation in the Philippines that would impose radical limits on the number of children that families can have appears to have less support in the Congress than was once reported. But pro-family opponents of the bill warn that it remains on the legislative calendar and remains a threat despite the fact that the proposed act is very unpopular in the majority Catholic country.

In January the Friday Fax reported that some Filipino legislators, arguing that the Philippines needs a much more aggressive policy of population control, introduced a bill that is strikingly similar to the one-child policy of Communist China. The "Responsible Parenting and Population Control Act of 2005" includes a preference in education for two-child families, free access to abortifacients, mandatory sex education for children as young as 10-years-old and imprisonment penalties for health care providers who refuse to perform or provide sterilization services for a population that is 87 percent Catholic and 5 percent Muslim.

At that time one sponsor of the act reported that he had the votes of 135 of 238 members of the Filipino House. It was thought that the bill could be debated and voted on at any time. It now appears that this particular statement was hyperbole. According to Eileen Macapanas Cosby, Executive Director of the Filipino Family Fund, the act was not debated, let alone passed, by the Filipino House last January. Nevertheless, Cosby warns that the bill remains a threat. She said supporters of the "two-child" policy have pressed on. According to Cosby, the act is "still on the schedule" of the House's legislative calendar, listed as "unfinished business," which means that it can be brought up for debate and a vote at any time during the early days of the work-week during any one of the next few weeks.

If passed the act would provide for a centralized bureaucracy that would be run by three non-elected officials from NGOs. This new bureaucracy would oversee the implementation of the legislation. Cosby said the bill "paves the way" for "the kind of human rights nightmare that is already" taking place "in China, with its coercive sterilization and contraception practices." She calls the proposed bill "China-lite."

Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is likely to veto the proposed act if it passes both houses of Congress. As in the American system, the act would then return to Congress where it must receive two thirds of the vote in both chambers to override the veto.



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