Chichi Conde, InterAksyon.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Palace has appealed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) not to downplay the debate on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and resort to carrying out civil disobedience actions against the Aquino administration.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office head Ramon Carandang told reporters on Sunday that that Catholic leaders should be open to the debate on the proposed measure, which is an “issue of national importance.”
“There are different and opposing views, but our way of explaining our side should be within the means of the law…What the President is saying is there is room for debate,” said Carandang.
The Catholic hierarchy had pulled out of the talks on the RH bill, saying “holding talks is futile as President Aquino said no one can stop him from pushing the measure.”
Msgr. Juanito Figura, CBCP secretary general, said the talks “would not yield any further positive results.” He said the consolidated RH bill in the House and Mr. Aquino’s five-point responsible parenthood agenda were basically the same.
“The bishops do not see any reason to further undertake a serious study/dialogue on HB 4244 with the administration as was proposed by Pres. Aquino, himself,” said Figura, reading a statement of the CBCP.
But Carandang said the issue “should not degenerate to illegal acts or anything like that.”
Earlier, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles stopped short of calling Aquino a modern Herod after the latter warned anti-RH groups that they were courting sedition for threatening not to pay taxes if the measure would become law.
“He can put us all in jail. We are willing to pay the price to save the unborn from modern Herods and save the executioners from the grasp of the evil one,” Arguelles said.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said that Aquino should be allowed to “charge all of us bishops, priests, religious, all the faithful with sedition because it is better to obey God rather than men and immoral laws,”
Aquino said calls for a tax boycott from the Citizens Alliance for the Protection of Human Life is a serious offense and may qualify for sedition charges.
“Sedition would be the charge for not doing your civic obligation, if you encourage others not to pay taxes,” the President added.
Aquino said the responsible parenthood bill, Malacañang‘s version of the proposed measure, would be included in his administration’s priority legislative measures during the next Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.
The House of Representatives is expected to begin plenary debates on the RH bill on Tuesday, May 17.
On Sunday, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros launched a “text brigade” appealing to the public to pray for “pro-life” legislators. “Our prolife legislators ask for prayers as they plan on May 17 their moves in this month-long session of congress. Let us pray for them.” – with reports from Pots de Leon
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