Palace maintains stance on RH bill

Published by rudy Date posted on March 27, 2011

SILANG, Cavite, Philippines  – Malacañang maintained yesterday that the Aquino administration’s position on responsible parenthood would not change despite the rally organized by the Catholic Church the other day to campaign against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said he was not talking “specifically” about the RH bill pending in Congress but the President’s position on modern family planning.

“The reason why we’ve been in dialogue with all the stakeholders is to try to explain these to them and the position remains the same,” Carandang said here after attending the Philippine National Police Academy graduation rites with the President.

He said despite the over 40,000 participants in the rally, the government has reason to believe that most Filipino couples would like to be educated on how to plan their families.

“Again, I think the surveys will show you that 60 to 70 percent – I don’t know the exact figure but something close to 70 percent of people surveyed consistently say they want access to modern family planning.”

Carandang said the rally was not a cause of concern.

“We respect their right to express their opinions on vital issues like this. The position of the President has not changed as far as I’m aware and I don’t expect it to change.”

In Manila, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the rally was primarily directed toward the legislative branch hearing the RH bill.

“They’re hoping to influence the legislators. We respect the decision of the anti-RH to voice their objections through this mass action. But despite this, the discussions will be up to the legislature,” Lacierda said.

“I think more than anything else, you can see that our position is clear. Those who attended (the rally) are against abortion. We also do not agree to abortion,” he said over radio station dzRB.

Lacierda said the President believes in the freedom of each individual to decide on the size of his family.

He said there was no instruction to the allies of the President to put the bill on the back burner so as not to clash with the Catholic Church.

“It is up to the legislators to discuss and decide on the RH bill and we understand perfectly the (Church’s stand) on the matter. But then again, we have to go through the process and ensure that all voices should be heard in the discussions of the bill,” Lacierda said.

Blood on their hands

While bishops “talk about choosing life, they have blood on their hands for the death of 11 mothers from maternal-related complications every day,” the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation Inc. (PLCPD) said.

PLCPD executive director Ramon San Pascual said the bishops are “contributing to the manslaughter of mothers” in opposing the RH bill designed to give them ample protection from complications related to child-bearing and child birth.

“These deaths could been prevented had these women (had) access to quality reproductive health care. As we speak, thousands of children are being orphaned, their chances of survival likewise getting dimmer with the untimely and preventable demise of their nurturers,” San Pascual said.

The bill, up for second reading at the House of Representatives, is strongly being opposed by the Catholic Church on the belief that it promotes abortion.

Davide disappointed on TV ads

Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. expressed disappointment over an advertisement on television that presents the controversial RH bill as an opportunity to give families a chance to have a better future.

In a seven-page speech titled “Without cease let us walk, stand, fight, work, and pray for life” read by Court of Appeals Justice Jose Reyes Jr. at the Knights of Columbus (KC) meeting in Manila, Davide said he was “deeply saddened, discouraged and troubled” by the TV commercial.

The former chief justice is also the KC Fraternal Association of the Philippines’ board chairman.

He attended the mass at San Agustin Church in Intramuros as part of the KC annual “Walk for Life” program, but failed to attend it because he had to go to his grandchild’s graduation.

In his message to the 7,000 KC members, Davide said in the commercial, sponsored by the PLCPD, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baranquel said “the RH Bill is pro chance.”

He said while there are calamities that threaten life such as tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear radiation, and terrorism, “they fail in comparison to the destruction of life or state policies or legislations that threaten life such as the RH bill.”

He said if the bill is passed, it would violate the first and most fundamental human right which is the right to life.

Meanwhile, KC spokesman Arsenio Isidro Yap said if the RH bill passes Congress, they would question its constitutionality before the SC. – Aurea Calica, Evelyn Macairan, Sheila Crisostomo, (The Philippine Star)

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