Pro-life groups backed by the Catholic Church called for massive assemblies tomorrow when both chambers of Congress are expected to step up the process for the approval of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill after President Aquino certified the measure as urgent last Friday.
Aquino’s certifying the RH bill as urgent has spelled the difference in the legislative procedure leading to passage or non-passage of the measure, according to the CBCP.
“On December 14, the President certified the RH bill as urgent. Therefore, the legislative process in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be fast-tracked and completed by Monday or Tuesday,” Ma. Concepcion Noche, president of Alliance for the Family Inc., said.
Noche explained that due to the certification, the three-day rule as regards tackling the bill on third reading would not apply anymore.
“The three-day rule is from second to third reading – count three days from the date legislators are furnished clean copies of the bill as approved on second reading. That’s when the third reading is held,” she said.
“That is skipped because of the certification of urgency — right after second reading, third reading could be held.”
Technically, House Bill 4244 could be signed into law by next week. Life and family advocates, faith-based organizations, civic groups, as well as the youth and the clergy are again mobilizing for Monday to be in the frontlines to express their opposition to the measure and make their presence felt in Congress.
All indications point to this day as a make-or-break day as
voting on third reading of House Bill 4244 will be done.
With the results 113 in favor and 104 against with three abstentions, Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (Ilocos Sur) Auxiliary Bishop William David Antonio said it’s not over yet. He said their focus is on the final voting scheduled on Monday, December 17.
“We continue to pray for our representatives and senators that they be guided by the Holy Spirit in casting their votes,” he said. He added they will continue forming the conscience of their people. Bacolod (Negros Occidental) Bishop Vicente M. Navarra alerted the Catholic faithful in his 69 parishes and chaplaincies with the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health bill on second reading at the House of Representatives midweek.
The 73-year old prelate said he is indignant and disgusted with “the evil schemes plotting to destroy the true essence of human sexuality and family.” In a statement sent to all his priests, religious and lay organizations, he said the “Yes votes can never be interpreted as a defeat of the Cause of God because God can never be defeated and He will always triumph in the end.”
“Moreover, the Yes votes are too far from being significant to be considered as representative of the WILL of the majority of Filipinos.”
He also thanked God for the courage of 104 lawmakers who he said “remained steadfast” as they “publicly declared their No vote.”
Navarra called on the faithful to continue praying for God’s will “and let the fruit of such prayers be enfleshed by taking active stand for the defense of human life especially of the Unborn.”
While San Fernando (Pampanga) Auxiliary Bishop Pablo S. David said they “will continue to pray and try hard at forming the consciences of the faithful, including those of Catholic legislators.”
Bishop David added as it is the lawmakers’ job to pass relevant laws, it is the Catholic church’s duty to uphold spiritual and moral values such as the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception.
For Marbel (South Cotabato) Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, he said he is happy with the 104 lawmakers who showed their strength in faith. In a message sent to CBCP Media office, the 73-year old prelate said he is compassionate to the 113 who manifested weakness in their faith as he expressed his hope for their conversion.
Legazpi (Albay) Bishop emeritus Lucilo B. Quiambao said he “thought the lawmakers were sincere in their prayers as what The Lord’s Prayer says ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ or they don’t pray at all.”
He added the lawmakers’ insincerity makes him doubt if they really voted ‘Yes’ as dictated by their conscience.
“I prayed for their enlightenment,” he concluded.
In a letter penned by bishops to be read at Sunday mass in churches across the mainly Catholic country, they said the bill promoted pre-martial sex and threatened the “moral fiber” of the country.
“The Reproductive Health bill, if passed into law in its present form, will put the moral fiber of our nation at risk.... a contraceptive mentality is the mother of an abortion mentality,” they wrote in the pastoral letter, which was posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The bill paves the way for sex education in schools and the provision of free contraceptives in a country with one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations.
It was passed by House on Thursday and the Senate is expected to vote on it before Christmas.
The bill will be signed into law by President Aquino if both houses of parliament agree on a common version.
In addition, the bishops allege, to being a precursor to allowing abortion, the bill encourages pre-marital sex by giving young unmarried couples contraceptives to help them avoid pregnancy.
“Is this moral? Those who corrupt the minds of children will invoke divine wrath on themselves,” said the letter.
Proponents of the bill deny that it promotes abortion, which is expressly banned by the Constitution.
The Aquino government hopes the law will help bring down poverty in a nation of nearly 100 million people, as well as reducing the high maternal mortality rate. The pastoral letter, however, rejected the notion.
“It will not be so. The poor can rise from their misery through more accessible education, better hospitals and lesser government corruption,” it said.
“Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care.”
The measure was passed on second reading at past 2 a.m. Thursday, with Malacanang revealing its determination to see a victory by having four Cabinet secretaries at the Lower House’s premises Wednesday evening.
The Palace officials – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Secretary Ricky Carandang – talked with Liberal Party (LP) solons and advised them to either vote for the bill or to be absent during the voting, according to some anti-RH lawmakers.