Filipino D&P Partner Scrubs Statements Opposing Country’s Bishops from Website

BANGKOK, Thailand, May 27, 2010 ( – A Thailand-based partner of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P), recently exposed for its promotion of a “reproductive health” (RH) bill in the Philippines that has been opposed by the country’s bishops, has scrubbed its site of references to the bill.

At the same time, Focus on the Global South (FGS), which is based in Bangkok but operates in the Philippines and India, has left up several articles with openly pro-abortion and pro-contraception statements.

The organization has admitted in the past that a significant part of its funding comes from D&P, the Canadian bishops’ international development arm.

But despite having scrubbed the site of references to the RH bill, FGS still has posted a March 2010 statement which it endorsed that asserts women’s “entitlement to public and reproductive services.”  The statement, issued in the voice of women, goes on to bemoan the fact that “the church” and others “choose to decide for us, and even worse, decide to deny us the right to choose.”

But the site no longer features an article by Dr. Walden Bello, FGS’s founding director, that accuses the Filipino bishops of a “massive campaign” of “systematic disinformation about the [RH] bill.”

According to Bello’s article, “One religious denomination arrogates to itself the right to speak for all religions and to veto the opinion of other religious organizations on reproductive rights.”

The Philippines Catholic Bishops Conference, which exercises great influence in the largely Catholic country, has vehemently opposed the RH bill because in their estimation it presents a danger to the unborn.  In a November 2008 pastoral letter, they declared that “the Bill in its present form poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb. It is a source of danger for the stability of the family. It places the dignity of womanhood at great risk.”  They reiterated this position in a December 2009 statement.

Also now missing from the site is a statement on behalf of women’s workers that had been posted to the site of FGS’ Philippines Programme.  “We demand the passage of the RH bill,” it read.  “The RH bill answers the problem of high maternal mortality that is bound to escalate in times of crisis. Without the RH bill, reproductive health services will remain beyond the reach of poor working women.”

The FGS site still features, however, an article by FGS senior associate Nicola Bullard, which labels the Vatican’s pro-life stance as “reactionary.”  She states in a footnote that at the UN’s “women’s and population review conferences, a great deal of political energy was spent simply maintaining a minimal line on reproductive choice in the face of the reactionary onslaught from the US and the Vatican.”

This D&P partner’s problematic positions were first reported by the SoCon or Bust blog, which also first reported the missing pages relating to the RH bill.

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