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Philippine Catholics told to vote 'pro-life'

Church says candidates supporting divorce, access to abortion and birth control should not be backed in May elections.

Last Modified: 13 Apr 2013 14:58
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About 80 percent of the Philippines' 100 million people are Catholic [EPA]

The Philippines' powerful Catholic Church has issued guidelines for next month's midterm elections to congregants, advising them not to vote for candidates who support pro-choice, homosexual marriages or divorce, according to a church official.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, vice president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, sent a letter on Saturday to the AFP news agency containing guidelines for Catholic priests to read at mass on the following day.  

"Pro-choice is anti-life,” said the archbishop.

"We advise you not to vote for the candidate if the candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear 'no' to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, total birth control and homosexual marriages or death issues," he added.

The guidelines are seen as an attack on President Benigno Aquino's allies who pushed for a controversial birth control law that was passed last year.

The law requires state health centres to hand out free condoms and birth control pills and mandates that sex education be taught in schools.

However, the Supreme Court has temporarily suspended the law as it resolves at least six legal challenges filed by the church's allies.

The Philippines is to hold mid-term elections on May 13 for the House of Representatives, half the 24-seat Senate, and thousands of local government posts.

About 80 percent of the Philippines' 100 million people are Catholic, a legacy of Spanish colonial rule that ended in the late 1800s.

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