CBCP returns to negotiating table with Palace execs on RH bill

Published by rudy Date posted on March 31, 2011

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) returned to the negotiating table with Palace officials yesterday, more than a month after pulling out from the dialogs initiated by the government, to iron out the differences between the Church and the State concerning President Aquino’s five-pronged Responsible Parenthood (RP) bill.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the meeting was made possible because of Aquino’s invitation to Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and other CBCP stalwarts led by its president, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, secretary-general Msgr. Juanito Figura, and Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

The meeting was held inside the Yellow Room of Malacañang’s Premiere Guest House and Aquino was joined by Lacierda, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad.

Lacierda told reporters at a press briefing that they were able to achieve common ground with the bishops as regards to some provisions which Malacañang has included in its draft proposal for the RP bill such as the government’s program on sex education.

“Some of the bishops suggested that the age level for sex education should be increased if possible [up until the students reach] puberty — that would mean around 11 to 13 years old. Another one also said that it’s okay for sex education to be included in the current bill provided that it should be accompanied with an emphasis on responsibility and on values [formation of the students],” Lacierda explained, adding that the government duly recognize and accept these particular suggestions.

Lacierda described the results of the said meeting as “better than expected” since the Church leaders particularly Cardinal Rosales openly listened to the views of the State even as they stood firm on to their reservations against RP bill and other issues related to reproductive health.

The Palace official also relayed that the Church’s views against the artificial family planning methods through contraceptives haven’t changed although, he said, they were able to accept that condoms should not be considered as an abortifacient.

“The President told them that certainly there will be parts of the bill which will not be in agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church. For instance, the use of condoms, artificial contraceptives but, again, this is the role of the State to provide all means of family planning to the citizens especially to the disadvantaged,” Lacierda said in response to questions whether CBCP’s attendance during yesterday’s meeting already indicates their support for Aquino’s five-pronged RP policy.

“In principle, there are points of agreement that we have but, again, it [reception of the Church on the government’s ideas] is in the details — that’s where we have to contend with. So we don’t know yet what will be the final output of our discussions but certainly it’s a welcome decision on the part of the bishops to come back and hold a continuing dialog,” he added.

Lacierda maintained that the government’s position on the distribution of condoms to poor couples who would ask for it hasn’t changed. A little discussion concerning the State’s definition of fertilization and implantation — which has always been a concern for the Church following their strong belief that life begins at fertilization — was also carried out and it was Ona who did the explanation on the part of the government.

“There are divergent views on that although from their [CBCP’s] point of view, they mentioned that the Philippine Medical Association already issued a statement where they say that life begins at fertilization. So there’s a discussion, a very little discussion on that point, but it was a concern for them,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda expressed hopes that the draft legislation for the RP bill would be finished and submitted to the House of Representatives before regular sessions of the 15th Congress resume on May 9 so that lawmakers could finally start deliberating on it. –Aytch S. de la Cruz, Daily Tribune

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”


Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.


Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories