Noy warns anti-RH advocates on non-payment of taxes

Published by rudy Date posted on May 14, 2011

Manila, Philippines – President Aquino yesterday issued a stern warning against anti-reproductive health groups encouraging civil disobedience by espousing nonpayment of taxes, saying it is a “very serious offense” that can make them liable for sedition or rebellion.

“I will be surprised if somebody will say that publicly because if I’m not mistaken, that is a grave offense, I think sedition will be the charge that will be filed for your not doing your civic obligation,” Aquino said.

Though not a lawyer, Aquino revealed there is already substantial jurisprudence on the matter.

“We have many precedents on this (non-payment of taxes), our laws are strict on this,” he said.

Aquino stressed the consequences of the actions of groups espousing nonpayment of taxes as part of civil disobedience against the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Under criminal laws, sedition is an offense where people, mostly civilians, burn flags and other government paraphernalia in public or before government institutions, with the end in view of taking up arms or toppling a legitimate government.

It is almost the same as rebellion, although the latter apparently has a military component that conspires with a group of people whose objective is to take over the government by force.

Aquino, on the other hand, hinted he may not certify the RH bill as urgent, primarily because there is no pressing need for Congress to approve it.

Aquino cited the proposals calling for the postponement of elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as urgent since the elections in the region would be held on Aug. 8.

“There is also a constitutional provision when you can certify a certain bill as urgent. And at this point in time, I think I’ve only certified as urgent one bill, the postponement of the ARMM elections since it would be held in August,” he pointed out.

Aquino made the statement in reaction to the call of former President Fidel Ramos, a pro-RH advocate, who wanted Aquino to certify the RH bill as urgent so that it would be enacted into law at the soonest possible time.

Aquino said he might include the RH bill in the next list of priorities.

“The first list that we submitted to Congress was 23 or 24 measures already,” he said. Ramos said Aquino had nothing to fear since many have already expressed their support for the passage of the RH bill.

The former president led pro-RH advocates in a rally in Quezon City that was attended by celebrities, including international singer and actress Lea Salonga.

On the other hand, anti-RH groups led by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are embarking on a campaign in the Visayas region.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone appealed to the CBCP and anti-RH bill groups against waging a civil disobedience campaign.

Evardone said the CBCP’s reported threat to withdraw support from the Aquino administration as well as allied groups in favor of the RH bill is “totally uncalled for.” “Malacañang’s move to engage all sectors in a dialogue on the RH bill should be maximized by anti-RH advocates to air their objections and proposals on specific issues and provisions of the bill,” Evardone said.

“We should not resort to threats, intimidation and harassment,” he added.

Muslim groups, on the other hand, expressed full support for the RH bill.

The Southern Philippines Muslim Unity and Development (SPMUDA) led by Aliasgar Solaiman said they are supporting responsible parenting and freedom of choice and access to information for family planning under the RH bill.

Datu Camad Ali, founding president of the SPMUDA, said he is supporting the RH bill.

“I understand arguments for and against RH bill. There are many valid arguments on both sides and I can understand where everybody’s coming from as far as what their belief system is. Basically, you have to go with what your conscience tells you and you would have to know what is right for you without trampling upon somebody else’s belief,” Ali said. –-Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) with Paolo Romero, Ben Serrano

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