Philippine president signs contraceptives law opposed by the country's Roman Catholic Church

The Philippine president has signed a law that will promote both artificial and natural contraceptives as well as sexual education and family planning programs vigorously opposed by the country's Roman Catholic Church.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte says President Benigno Aquino III signed the law on Dec. 21 and that his administration announced it only Saturday because of the "sensitivity" of the issue.

Valte says the passage of the law "closes a highly divisive chapter of our history" and "opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation" among those who oppose and support the legislation.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, criticized the "secrecy" of the signing of the law, saying it indicates that the president was ashamed or afraid of its consequences.