Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Condom Distribution

Posted by butalidnl on 1 March 2010

Secretary Cabral of the Department of Health got the ire of the Catholic Bishops in the Philippines because of her distribution of condoms during Valentines Day.
male condom

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said: “Napaka-imoral para sa nanunungkulan sa gobyerno na paigtingin ang pamamahagi ng condom na alam naman natin na hindi totoong mababawasan o mapipigilan nito ang pagdami ng HIV-AIDS. Nakakatakot dahil moralidad ng lipunan lalo na ng mga kabataan ang nakataya rito. Sana po magbago na siya [Cabral] dahil ang isang paa niya ay na sa impyerno na. Baka marami pa ang madamay,” quoted the Philippine Star.

[“It’s very immoral for someone in a government position to support the distribution of condoms which we know, do not really reduce or stop the spread of HIV-AIDS. It’s scary because it’s the morality of our society, especially of our youth, that is at stake. We only wish that Cabral would change because she already has one foot in hell. People might suffer the same fate.”]

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes agreed with Arguelles, and even called for Cabral’s resignation.

But it seems that Cabral is holding her ground, planning not only to continue with the distribution of condoms, but to continue with the whole of the Department of Health’s anti-AIDs campaign program. This program goes by the name “ABC”.  “A” is for “Abstinence from Sex” – this is what the Church teaches, but which, Cabral says only few will follow. Then, “B” is “be faithful to your partner”. And “C” stands for “condom use”. The distribution of condoms is a means of providing those who cannot afford it, a means of avoiding AIDS/HIV.

Cabral has the support of the president and most civil society organizations for its condom distribution program.  Even presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro came out in support of her.

This campaign by the church goes back a long way. The church railed against Juan Flavier,  then Secretary of Health, also for distributing condoms. And as Cabral says, the church can become “vicious” in its attacks, even resorting to personal swipes in its various sermons during mass.

I think the Catholic church is medieval in its opposition to the distribution of condoms by the DoH.  It even goes so far as say that condoms do not prevent the spread of AIDS, when it in fact does. And it acts as if the choice that people face is “no sex or sex with condom”, when in reality, the choice is “sex with or sex without condom” for the majority of people. Pious people, who abstain from sex are not the target of the campaign. The campaign targets those who have multiple sex partners.
It is difficult enough for the DoH to convince the public to use condoms, even without the church actively campaigning against it. And if the church wins out, what is the country to do against the spread of AIDS, pray?

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