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PHILIPPINES 13 May 2013 Philippines holds mid-term elections
Notable issues ahead of the congressional and local mid-term elections in May include gun violence and family planning.  A gun ban has been imposed to prevent the first, while the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has turned the election into a referendum on the country’s new and controversial Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. The National Catholic Register reports that at the annual March for Life in the capital city of Manila on March 16 speakers urged voters to remove lawmakers who supported passage of the law. The Philippines describes itself as the biggest Catholic nation in Asia.
The two main coalitions are the Liberal Party coalition of President Aquino and the United Nationalist Alliance of former president Joseph Estrada. The winning candidates will begin their terms on Jun 30, midway through President Benigno Aquino’s term.
A nationwide firearms ban ahead of the election ends on Jun 12. It bans carrying firearms, hiring armed bodyguards by candidates and transporting arms, explosives, raw materials or parts, according to COMLEC, the elections authority. Army-backed police contingents will enforce the ban, especially in some 800 towns in 15 provinces considered security hotspots due to a recent history of election violence or the presence of private armed groups. Despite crackdowns, Philippine elections have been marred by violence, especially in rural areas awash in weapons and private militias.
The family planning bill had been introduced in various forms in legislative sessions for more than a decade but had never reached the floor for a vote until Dec 2012, when it was passed by the legislature and signed by the president. It guarantees universal and free access to nearly all modern contraceptives for all citizens – most importantly the nation’s poorest people – through government health centers. With its challenge to the new law in the Supreme Court, the Catholic bishops have succeeded in delaying its implementation, at least until the June court hearing.  
TAGS: Philippines mid-term election, congressional and local elections, May 2013, gun ban, family planning, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, CBCP, Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, President Benigno Aquino, Liberal Party coalition, Philippines, Asia, Asia-Pacific, United Nationalist Alliance, election news, voting, voters, Catholics, Catholic country, Catholic news
Philippines election webhttp://www.philippineelection2013.com/
Philippine politicians declare candidacy for the 2013 election (World Socialist Web Site 13 Oct 2012)https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/10/phil-o13.html
SC halts implementation of family planning law (Gulf Today 20 Mar 2013)http://gulftoday.ae/portal/3616259f-e819-4e94-a89a-c08b35c81f4c.aspx
Philippines needs resolute political support on reproductive health (Guardian Health Matters 19 Mar 2013)http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/mar/19/philippines-political-support-reproductive-health
Philippines imposes gun ban to stop poll violence (PhilStar 13 Jan 2013)http://www.philstar.com/breaking-news/2013/01/13/896507/philippines-imposes-gun-ban-stop-poll-violence
‘Reproductive Health’ Law Delayed in Philippines (National Catholic Register 24 Mar 2013)http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/reproductive-health-law-delayed-in-philippines/#ixzz2OJ1qefpw

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