MANILA -- Supporters of the controversial reproductive health bill gave the greenlight on moves urging President Benigno Aquino III to certify the bill as urgent as they scored the Catholic Church hierarchy for too much meddling on the issue.

In Tuesday’s briefing at Quezon City, two party-list lawmakers and various groups have called on Aquino to realize his pro-choice stand in family planning by asking his allies in the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the measure, which has been gathering dust in the past years.

Akbayan party-list Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao and Gabriela party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan agreed that it is high time for the Philippines to implement a comprehensive reproductive health policy, which is pro-women and pro-poor.

To validate her point, Bag-ao said 11 women die every day due to childbirth-related complications, excluding the lack of access to family planning methods and the prevalence of unwanted pregnancies in teenage girls.

Ilagan, for her part, said past surveys conducted by independent pollsters during the height of the presidential elections last summer showed inclination towards pro-choice candidates.

A Pulse Asia survey released March 12 showed that six in 10 Filipinos will support a candidate who made public support for modern family planning methods.

The same survey said six percent would not vote for candidates in favor of modern family planning methods, and 30 percent were undecided.

Aquino ran on a pro-choice platform in his landslide victory last May.

The Catholic Church sticks to its position of promoting only natural family planning methods and sees the use of contraceptives such as condoms and pills as a sharp departure from pro-life teachings.

Dr. Edelina dela Paz, national coordinator of Catholics for RH Movement, said they are free-thinking Catholics and that the bishops’ views on the reproductive health and women’s rights are strongly disagreeable. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)