A bill was introduced Monday in the world’s most Catholic country that would impose a two-child limit on families. The proposed bill before the Philippines legislature, would limit government assistance for education to only those families who complied with the law.
Eileen Macapanas Cosby, Executive Director, Filipino Family Fund, expressed outrage over the proposal:
“This is social engineering at its worst. The nearly 3 million Filipino Americans with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends back in the Philippines have a stake in this radical legislation. If passed, it would have dreadful consequences on the country, including imprisoning our family and friends for their beliefs. The legislation is coercive, violates religious liberty, and is completely contrary to Filipino values.”
HB 3773 “The Responsible Parenting and Population Control Act of 2005” would have the following effects:
- It will put in place a comprehensive national policy “that discriminates against families with more than two children.” Two child families shall have preference in the grant of scholarships for higher education.
- The bill defines “reproductive health care” as “availability and access to a full range of methods, techniques, and services that contribute to reproductive and sexual health and well-being” … [including contraceptive information and abortifacient birth prevention.]
- The bill establishes mandatory sex education from grades 5-12, with topics to include “reproductive health and sexual rights,” “sexual identity,” and “gender roles.” Moreover, the bill requires all employers, including the Catholic Church, to provide free of charge, “reproductive health care services and devices to the workers.” The bill considers such services to include voluntary sterilization.
The bill also prohibits persons “to act from conscience” with the provision allowing up to six months imprisonment for “any health care service provider who shall… refuse to perform voluntary sterilization and ligation” and for “any public official… who shall prohibit or intentionally restrict” the provision of services outlined in the bill.
In addition to the coercive elements and religious liberty violations that this bill would impose, Ms. Cosby and other Filipino Americans are concerned that the values that this bill represents are not truly Filipina in nature, and are contrary to the Catholic beliefs held by the majority of the country.
“Where did this come from? These are Western ideas, not Filipino, and they do not protect the dignity of the Filipino women. In fact, they pave the way for the kind of human rights nightmare that is already in China, with its coercive sterilization and contraception practices. The Philippine-version is really just ‘China-light.’ This is not a policy growing from Filipino values, it is social engineering from the outside being imposed on the Philippine people.”
The Philippine population is 87% Catholic and 5% Muslim. Dr. Brian Scharneccia, President of the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute, ISHRI, is also concerned. “H.B. 3773 does not reflect the indigenous cultural and religious values of the Catholic and Muslim population of the Philippines. Rather, it promotes the special interests of developed nations to maintain the Philippines. This is a direct attack on genuine human rights and the solidarity that must be maintained among civilized nations.”
In a statement released last February, Archbishop Fernando Capalla asked the government to examine its own policies to eradicate poverty before “attacking the sanctity of every Filipino family's home. The 'two-child policy' goes against our constitutional provision that safeguards the welfare of every family. It is discriminatory and penalizes the poor who have greater need for government assistance.”
Maerose Bacani, a member of the Filipino Family Fund, also expressed outrage at the proposed legislation: “How can this happen in a free society that is also a Catholic nation?” Filipino American professionals are mobilizing grass-roots efforts of pro-life leaders on the ground in the US and the Philippines to build opposition to the social engineering bill. Filipino Family Fund is sponsoring an on-line petition drive, leadership development programs, youth educational programs and democracy initiatives in the Philippines from contributions made by Americans who care.
The bill was introduced Monday, December 12, and is now in its second reading in the Philippine legislature. The next step is further debate, then a vote anticipated soon after the New Year.