DOH Sec. Cabral calls Catholic Church "vicious," will not stop promoting condoms

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Esperanza Cabral said that even though the Catholic Church is "vicious" at times, she will not stop her department's efforts against the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), reports ABS-CBN News.

In an interview on ANC's Dateline Philippines, the health secretary expressed her concern about the Church' opposition, "Of course, I am afraid of the Church. They are very powerful and they can sometimes be very vicious." But she then stated that even with their resistance, she would rather "live dangerously" than risk the rise of HIV/AIDS cases in the country. "At the rate we are going, in 3 years, we are going to have more than 30,000 people with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines."

Yesterday, February 24, the DOH declared the Philippines to be in state of an HIV/AIDS epidemic. Cabral told TV Patrol that the DOH should not be held responsible if the Church continues to hinder their programs. "If there are things that we should have been doing that we did not do because it was being blocked by these organizations or people, then the blame is not on us but on some other groups."

During the Dateline interview, Cabral explained the DOH's program against HIV/AIDS using the acronym "ABC." 'A' stands for "abstinence from sex," which she explained, was the ideal first option supported by the Catholic Church. However, she also deemed this to be unrealistic. "There are a few of us who will do it, but most of the people are going to heed to their natural inclinations."

The second option 'B,' she explained, stands for "be faithful to your partner" or monogamy. The final option 'C' stands for "condom use." Cabral told ABS-CBN News that the DOH's condom-distribution program is a way of providing "those who can't afford it," especially the youth, "with the means to prevent HIV/AIDS."

She said that the DOH, as the guardian of health, is more concerned about the people's physical condition over their morality. In a separate statement with GMA News Cabral said, "They [church] say they are the guardians of morality. That's their self-imposed duty... Kung ang methodology the Church for preventing AIDS is to remain abstinent or faithful, pangatawanan nila iyon [If the Church's methodology for preventing AIDS is to remain abstinent and faithful, they should stand by that]."

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ABS-CBN News reports that aside from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, several non-government organizations (NGOs) and international groups such as the European Union, support Sec. Cabral and the DOH's program. Sec. Cabral's   supporters have put up a Facebook fan page called "We support Sec. Esperanza Cabral for curbing HIV and unwanted pregnancies" which currently has 339 fans.


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