MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-six years after Roman Catholic leaders helped his mother marshal millions of Filipinos in an uprising that ousted a dictator, President Benigno Aquino III has picked a fight with the church over contraceptives and won a victory that bared the bishops' worst nightmare: They no longer sway the masses.
Aquino last month signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 quietly to avoid controversy.
The outcome has chipped away at the clout the church has held over Filipinos, and marked the passing of an era in which it was taboo to defy the church.
Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church's core values. Aquino and his allies say it addresses how the poor manage the number of children they have and provide for them.