According to survey released Friday, seven in 10 Filipinos would defy the powerful Roman Catholic church and elect a president who supported the use of condoms and pills for birth control.
The church has stepped up its efforts in the mainly Catholic Philippines ahead of national elections in May against the introduction of legislation to allow state-funded contraceptives.
AdvertisementBut while the church remains an extremely influential political and social force, the poll by Manila-based Social Weather Stations found huge support for the legislation.
Sixty-eight percent of voters agreed that "all of the legal means of family planning that a couple might choose to use, at a particular time, should be available from the government health service," the poll found.
The Catholic Church and its allies have so far succeeded in blocking the passage of the proposed law, first introduced in 2008, that would require the state to provide its citizens with "natural and modern family planning" means.
It would also provide reproductive health education for the youth.
Abortion, already illegal, would remain outlawed.
Most politicians, including many of the 10 candidates wishing to succeed President Gloria Arroyo, have hedged their stance on the bill, apparently fearing a church backlash. This has ensured it stayed as a mere proposal.
The poll found 38 percent of voters would vote for candidates who supported the bill, while another 20 percent said the issue would not affect how they voted, Social Weather Stations said.
Social Weather polled 2,100 registered voters in January.
Last month Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church when the department handed out free condoms in Manila on Valentine's Day.
Three bishops of the local Catholic Church demanded that Arroyo fire Cabral, alleging that the project was immoral and promoted sexual promiscuity. Arroyo ignored their call.
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