The Philippines Catholic Bishops' Conference has described the sale and trade of human organs, and issue of increasing concern across South East Asia as "morally unacceptable" and as "a violation [of the] the dignity of a human person."
The church's comments add to the weight of concern and activity by human rights organisations and anti-poverty activists across the region, and to attempts by NGOs to raise the subject in international fora.
Reading the statement at a public launch, Bishop Jose Oliveros of Malolos declared: "Human organ sale or trade, by its very nature, is morally unacceptable. It is contrary to the dignity of the human person, [his and her] authentic autonomy and the essential equality of all persons,"
The bishops continue: "The dignity of the human person as the image of God [means] our body ought not to be treated as a commodity or object of commerce, which would amount to the dispossession or plundering of the human body."
According to a report in Independent Catholic News (http://www.indcatholicnews.com/) the head of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Bioethics said although human organ transplantation gives new hope, particularly to patients with end stage diseases, to recover and regain an acceptable and decent lifestyle, such an act, however, can be abused and exploited usually at the expense of the economically poor.
"We understand the poor, who should not be blamed. There are other ways to help them but not through organ sale. They are human beings and cannot be treated as commodities. We encourage voluntary organ donation from cadavers and also from living donors. We condemn any form of organ sale and organ trade," added Oliveros.
Condemning those involved in organ trafficking, the bishops urged a stricter law against those involved in the commercialization or selling of organs, and that this be implemented without discrimination.
Bishop Oliveros went on: "A just allocation of the scarce organ donor should be safeguarded. Scarce organ donors should be made available first to the local recipients. A strict limit on allocation should be set for foreign recipients."
"We call for the education of our people especially with regard to organ donation. The physician or medical professional has the sublime duty to supply the possible candidates for organ donation with all the necessary information to help them make an informed consent."
Both criminal gangs and some corrupt public officials have been accused of fuelling the human trade, which has assumed international dimensions in recent years.