Philippines’ president-elect takes on Catholic Church over contraception

The Filipino president elect paid men to undergo vasectomies while mayor of Davao.

(RNS) The Philippines’ new president is on a collision course with the Roman Catholic Church, over his plans to promote contraception in a bid to tackle poverty.

Rodrigo Duterte, who won the presidential election last month, said his government would push to limit the size of families.

“I will reinstall the program of family planning. Three’s enough,” Duterte was quoted as saying on Monday (June 27) by the Associated Press.

The president elect said he was aware the move would position him against the church — in a country where 80 percent of people are Catholic.

“I’ve also been colliding with the church because it’s no longer realistic,” the president said referring to the church’s stand.

Duterte’s policy continues his active role in family planning. While mayor of Davao, a southern city, he paid men to undergo vasectomies, AP reported.

The Catholic Church is opposed to contraception and recommends natural family planning methods as a way to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The Filipino president-elect, who will be sworn in on Thursday (June 30), has already angered Catholics by calling Pope Francis the “son of a whore.” He later apologized for the slur, but his success in winning the presidency in a Catholic country called into question the role of the church in society.

 (Rosie Scammell is an RNS correspondent based in Rome)