Catholic bishops want condom ads banned

Posted at 03/03/10 4:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE ) - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday called for a complete ban on condom ads in the country, saying that condoms only imperil the morality of the youth.

Condoms and information materials being distributed during an anti-HIV campaign

ANC Video

The Rundown: Health Sec. Esperanza Cabral and Atty. Jo Imbong debate on condoms
Part 1 | Part 2

In a statement, CBCP President Nereo Odchimar said the condom business is a "multimillion dollar industry that heavily targets the adolescent market, at the expense of morality and family life."

"Condom advertisements should be banned in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, and public places, as they desensitize the youth’s delicate conscience and weaken their moral fiber as future parents," Odchimar said in a statement on the CBCP website.

The CBCP president questioned the Philippine government's thrust to promote condom use to combat the rising number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country. He said condoms should be required to have warning labels that say "Condoms may fail to protect from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases."

Odchimar said it was unjust for government to use the money of Catholic taxpayers for purposes that are against their moral beliefs. He said the funding and effort involved in promoting condoms should rather be used to fight diseases that afflict millions of people in the country each year, such as diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer, hypertension and influenza.

"When they say that condom promotes safe sex, it also promotes contra-human values. Marami: responsibility, promiscuity, and in fact it even also promotes the AIDS virus," Archbishop Oscar Cruz said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral has come under fire from the CBCP for promoting condoms as part of the battle against HIV-AIDS. The health secretary said the distribution of condoms is part of the health department's 3-pronged approach to combat the spread of HIV in the country.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed a total of 4,400 HIV/AIDS cases from 1984 to December 2009. Since the Philippines started monitoring the disease, the number of cases has gone up from 1 to 4,424 confirmed cases.

The highest number was recorded in 2009 with a total of 835 cases. For the month of January 2010, new HIV cases reached an all-time high of 143. The figure has surpassed the 2009 high of 126 HIV cases, which was recorded in December last year.

"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," the health secretary said.

Meanwhile, DKT Philippines, a non-governmental organization and condom distributor, voiced their concern over the CBCP proposal.

DKT said condom advertisements help teach the public about best practices in family planning, and said the condom is still the best way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases.

"With regards to the efficacy of the condom, the World Health Organization, which is at the forefront of public health... has clearly pronounced [that]... the condom is the single best device that helps prevent HIV-AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases," said Jojo Ampeloquio, Head, Product Management Unit for DKT Philippines. With reports from Abner Mercado, ABS-CBN News