ADEL Tamano may just have added his name to the black list of Catholic pro-life groups. The Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate issued a statement yesterday urging the government to make condoms readily available especially to the poor in order to combat the reported sharp increase in the number of HIV cases.

“Distributing condoms is all about health services, responsibility and protection,” Tamano said. “We don’t want to become like African countries with epidemics.”

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Note that government encouragement of the use of condoms as a birth control method is one of the features of the Reproductive Health bill that Catholic advocacy groups found objectionable.

While the RH bill is dead (“mission accomplished,” House Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar reported to Cardinal Vidal more than a week ago), pro-life advocates have not lowered their guard, asking the faithful to screen their candidates on the basis of their stand on population control.

Tamano’s courage is admirable as it is refreshing. Unlike other politicians, like his own presidential candidate, he refused pander to powerful lobby groups. Any man who stands up for his convictions is worthy of respect regardless of whether or not you agree with him.

By what looks like plain coincidence, Tamano’s statement came on the day Sun.Star reported that the population in Central Visayas could reach eight million this year, up by 1.5 million three years ago. Four million are said to be in Cebu.

I will leave it to the experts to decide whether the population increase is alarming or not. But let us assume that the number of the region’s inhabitants continues to grow by 500,000 people every year. That means that by 2020, Central Visayas shall have a population of 13 million, half of them living in Cebu. Using the same figures, our population shall have breached the 50 million mark, again half of them in Cebu, before the advent of the 22nd century.

Do we have a population problem? Tell me. Do our natural resources grow along with our population? Tell me again.

I am not saying that we start rushing to the nearest health centers for condoms and pills. But surely, we can find a way to harmonize the need to conserve the Earth’s dwindling resources and the basic tenets of our faith. That can only happen if there are no hysterics by either side. As it is, the dialogue seems to be proceeding this way:

How are we going to feed 25 million people in Cebu? That is the problem of the government. How can we provide them shelter? That is the concern of the State. Will there be enough jobs for everyone? We are not an employment agency.