Time runs out for RH debates in Senate

Published by rudy Date posted on May 24, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, one of the authors of the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the Senate, said that the senators would start the debates on the controversial measure in August.

“The Senate has only two weeks of session left, and even if we deliver the sponsorship speeches, we still have to adjourn sine die by June 9. In all probability, the debates will begin when session resumes after the State of the Nation Address by President Aquino at the end of July,” she said.

Santiago clarified that she has no objection if the Senate health committee chaired by Sen. Pia Cayetano will convene again, just to hold a public hearing on the “Unborn Child” bill filed recently by senators opposing the RH bill.

“We should proceed with all deliberate speed, because if we do not grant the oppositors a public hearing, they might resort to procedural technicalities which would delay the plenary debate,” she said.

Santiago said that the House of Representatives seems likely to pass the RH bill.

“If the RH bill is passed in the House, the political momentum will be carried over to the Senate. The senators will realize that the surveys are correct and the majority of the public support (for) RH is part of every individual’s freedom of conscience,” Santiago said.

The senator said that if the RH bill was defeated in the House, then it would be pointless to debate it in the Senate.

In the House, the Unborn Child bill was heard once in committee, but is not included in the ongoing RH debates.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Joker Arroyo have expressed belief that the government and Catholic Church leaders would find a compromise on the divisive RH bill.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said he wants to hear the arguments about the RH bill before finally making a decision.

Zubiri said he supports the improvement of the maternal health program but he is against a proposal that would mandate the teaching of sexual education to Grade 5 pupils.

He said that he also prefers that another national survey be conducted to determine the pulse of the people.

Cardinal seeks ‘moral light’

Cardinal Jose Sanchez, former Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican said that President Aquino needs moral light and spiritual wisdom to guide him in making a decision on the RH bill.

“I hope and I pray for the enlightenment of the President that God may give him the strength, moral strength and I hope the family would also be praying for this light from God. He needs moral light, and the spiritual wisdom,” said Sanchez.

He said the country’s leaders need to receive the spiritual gift so they would see the light and put a stop to the human desire that would destroy the human family.

“I must hope that our leaders would see that the Church is here to protect the truth and bring down from heaven the blessings of God,” he added.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas appealed to the Catholic faithful who stand on opposing sides on the RH bill to use their conscience to defend their positions and rebut their opponents.

Villegas, in his pastoral statement dated May 24, on the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, noted that the past few months have seen many Catholics at odds with one another on the issue of the RH bill.

“It is indeed sad and perhaps even scandalous for non Christians to see the Catholic flock divided among themselves and some members of the Catholic lay faithful at odds with their own pastors. If we fail to have love, we make ourselves orphans,” he said.

He said it is certainly not their (bishops) intention to add more flame to the fire but rather to make an appeal for the triumph of reason and sobriety. He said they want to make a plea for greater charity even as they passionately state their positions on this divisive issue.

Villegas said he and the other bishops plead with the officials in government and friends in media to look at the “Church as a partner in the mission of development.”

Bishop Daniel Arichea of the United Methodist Church (UMC) said that debates must focus on population issue and allied concerns like poverty, economic development, environment conservation and people’s welfare.

He said that Methodist churches in the country are one with the Roman Catholic Church with regards abortion.

“That’s a taboo with us and the Catholics,” he said referring to abortion.

He explained that the Methodist Church also believes in the science of contraception.

“The Methodist church have a very positive view of science, we believe that science help us identify products that will prevent conception, without endangering the health of the father or the mother,” he said.  With Evelyn Macairan, Eva Visperas, Dino Balabo, Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)

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