Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and the Reproductive Health (RH) bill are two contentious issues that have divided this country for quite some time now.
What makes the two controversial issues similar in more ways than one is because it is President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) and his government that are behind in making sure that, in both cases, the end justifies the means.
While GMA, the evil personified, is being prosecuted for the 2007 electoral sabotage filed against her (though a Pasay court ordered her released when it found the evidence presented by the Commission on Elections against her weak, but not after she posted a P1-M bail), the RH bill, which symbolizes what is good and needed badly for the country is, however, being assailed by no less than the bishops.
It will be noted that there is also a plunder case against GMA, accusing her of misusing the charity funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during the latter years of her presidency. However, the Sandiganbayan deferred hearing the case because of an earlier motion for reconsideration filed by the lawyers of GMA on the day she was granted bail.
So now that Pampanga Congresswoman Arroyo is out, she has been meeting with her party mates in congress and has been mouthing that she would vote against the bill, which in fact resulted to seven lawmakers affiliated with her withdrewing support for the measure.
Women RH advocates, like, Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies, Dr. Mary Racelis, research scientist at Ateneo’s Institute of Philippine Culture, Elizabeth Angsioco, chair of the Democratic Socialist Women’s Party, and other representatives from government and non-government organizations have denounced, nay lambasted, the bishops for “acting in a morally questionable way” and showing “an appalling insensitivity to the suffering and death of Filipino women.”
This, after the Catholic hierarchy declared war against PNoy and the pro-RH bill advocates following his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week urging the swift passage of the bill, which would provide universal access and information on natural and modern family methods and reduce the number of mothers and babies dying during childbirth.
This has only gotten worst when Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle recently issued a circular urging the faithful to converge at the Edsa Shrine on Saturday for a Mass and rally against the bill that is going to be voted on by the House on August 7.
Obviously, the declaration of GMA and her cohorts in congress that they will vote against the RH bill has emboldened the Catholic Church, making the latter master of the Filipino family’s fate.
“What is the morality in turning your back and forgiving the corruption of the former administration to bargain for [votes against] the reproductive health bill?” Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio asks.
The question is very valid, indeed, for it is simply asking the Church if a vilified person such as the former president, suddenly is perceived to be holy just because she can muster votes in the House against the RH bill in the coming landmark event?
Claudio urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) not to turn a blind eye to the “cold, hard, concrete facts” presented by academics, scientists and researchers that too many poor women were dying because of lack of access to contraceptives and proper reproductive health care.
These are pleas coming from women who knows a lot more about the subject than priests. Can’t the priests see their concerns?
Can we say now that the Church has positioned itself to have a foot in Congress, in strict violation of the separation of powers, for political expediency?
Senator Panfilo Lacson made a profound observation when he said: “What I don’t like with what the church is doing is engaging in disinformation especially from the pulpit. When I hear mass, I hear their clear disinformation that abortion is allowed under the RH bill.”
Lacson said that abortion will not only continue to be illegal but the penalty for it will even be increased by a provision to be included in the bill.
The members of the 15th Congress will do this nation a great favor if by their own free will and accord they can pass the responsible parenthood measure that will benefit the greater number of Filipinos, than please a few people of the cloth simply to satisfy their own political interest.