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DOH, Church agree on responsible parenthood, not on sex ed

Health and church officials may have finally found a compromise to the long-standing debate about the government’s sex education program for elementary and high school students. Both groups see “responsible parenthood" as the possible middle ground in the controversy over the sex education program of the Department of Education (DepEd). DepEd Memorandum Number 261 Series 2005 covers the sex education program for grade school pupils (at least nine years old) and high school students. The views of health and church officials on sex education have been on opposite poles but both groups are now eyeing a compromise based on responsible parenthood ideals. Health Secretary Enrique Ona and retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz both said they are for responsible parenthood. "Ako’y naniniwalang may situation at meron tayong modus vivendi, ang paniwala ng simbahan at gobyerno magkatugma at di magbubungguan (I believe we can reach a modus vivendi or where we agree to disagree. There has to be a point where the Church and government will agree instead of lock horns)," Ona said in an interview on dzXL radio. Ona said he is confident both sides can find a compromise without having to return to square one. For the government, the bottom line is to allow couples to have a more active role in family planning, he says. On the other hand, Cruz, a Canon Law expert, says for the Church, responsible parenthood means allowing parents to follow the natural biological composition of the human persons. Cruz believes the Church and the government can still meet halfway. "Baka there is a middle ground. Ang narinig ko sa pangulo gusto niya responsible parenthood at yan din para sa CBCP ang responsible parenthood (There is a middle ground. From what I understand, President Aquino wants responsible parenthood and that is also what the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines wants)," he said in a separate interview on dzXL. However, Cruz admitted there may be differences between the government and the Church as far as terminology is concerned. "(Pero) nakukuha siguro yan sa usapan, di dapat mag-away ... Pag di sila nagkasundo ano mawawala sa gobyerno at CBCP. Pag nagkasundo napakalaking bagay niyan para sa kabutihan ng mamamayan (Both sides have to talk and not fight. If they talk, they have nothing to lose and much to gain)," he said. Cruz said he had talked to former secretaries Mona Valisno (education) and Esperanza Cabral (health), and found the conversations "very amiable." "Maraming nagawa ang mabuting usapan kaysa away (We can achieve more with talking than with fighting)," he said. – VVP, GMANews.TV