Friday, October 1, 2010

RH Bill ticked off

All hell breaks loose since President Aquino spoke in favor of contraceptives...

RP to provide birth control despite church ban

"The government is obligated to inform everybody of their responsibilities and their choices. At the end of the day, government might provide assistance to those who are without means if they want to employ a particular method," he said.

"I believe the couple will be in the best position to determine what is best for the family, how to space (the births), what methods they can rely on and so forth," said Aquino at a "town hall" style meeting with expatriate Filipinos.

"They face the responsibility for the children that they bring in and government is willing to assist them."

Pretty interesting pronouncement from the President right after his one-on-one with Obama.
On cue, the bishops reminded Aquino of its stance against contraceptives. For good measure, was CBCP was also reported as having reminded him of the possibility of excommunication. (Update: A disclaimer from Bishop Odchimar that he never threatened Aquino with excommunication).

Speaking on the Church-run Radio Veritas, Bishop Nereo Odchimar of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, the current CBCP president, said that even Mr. Aquino may be covered by excommunication. Mr. Aquino, a practicing Catholic, has stood by his position that Filipino couples who choose to use artificial contraceptives should be allowed to do so.

"Well, being the President of all, you must consider the position of the Catholic Church because we are approaching these issues from the moral aspect like the unborn. Abortion is a grave crime. Excommunication is attached to [it]. That is an issue of gravity, that is a violation of God's commandment," Odchimar said.

Accordingly, the pro-RH camp was emboldened to push for the prioritization of the pending RH bill in Congress.

But first, Mr. Aquino has to match his pronouncement with an endorsement and certification of the RH bill as a priority measure, the minority leader [Lagman] said.

House Speaker Belmonte, whose leanings on the issue is no secret, has also expressed his wish for the bill to be prioritized.

“Everyone has to assess it for himself, but we ourselves have assessed it in the past and we are willing to take the risk,” Belmonte told reporters in his weekly news conference Thursday when asked how lawmakers intend to deal with the staunch opposition of the Catholic church, which even campaigns against congressmen in favor of RH bill.

While offering no guarantee of its passage, Belmonte said he would like to see the bill reach third reading and voted on by members of the chamber, unlike in the past congresses when it only reached the level of plenary debates.

With the snowballing support for the bill, Belmonte said he might even ask the President to certify it as an urgent measure.

“I think it’s okay for us to request him to certify that. At any rate he’s already bitten the bullet on it,” he said.

Speaker Belmonte hit it right on the button: Aquino has already bitten the bullet. The money quote from President Aquino would be: "At the end of the day, government might provide assistance to those who are without means if they want to employ a particular method". This is equivalent to saying that the government might distribute contraceptives for free, just as the RH bill intends to.

However, I notice the tentative word "might". It would have been more decisive of President Aquino had he instead declared : "At the end of the day, government should provide assistance to those who are without means...". It seems though Aquino has bitten the bullet, he didn't swallow the whole thing. The bullet is still between his front teeth. I wonder if the forthcoming dialog with the CBCP would make him spit it out. One key question might be telling enough: When does life begin? A follow-up question would be: "Are you sure all the artificial contraceptives you are in favor of freely providing for, does not interfere with life in any of its stages?". Note Mr. President, to back up your arguments with scientific, medically ascertained facts.

Meanwhile, a group of Muslims has also voiced out its (op)position on the issue. It makes the matter even more more interesting.

Muslims join outrage vs birth control

MANILA, Sept. 30, 2010—A group of Muslims has joined the growing chorus of voices opposing any effort by President Benigno Aquino III to promote artificial family planning.

In what could be a boost to the Catholic Church’s campaign against contraceptives, the Imam Council of the Philippines said they are against birth control pills and condoms even among married couples.

Ibram Moxir, council head, said the Islam community is one with the Catholic hierarchy in opposing the passage of the Reproductive Health bill which seeks to control the country’s growing birth rate.

Other pro-RH advocates like Gabriela have also been emboldened to step-up their campaign, even as one particularly overeager advocate has pushed 'emboldened' to new level.

Manila tour guide arrested for heckling during ecumenical service

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Popular tourist guide Carlos Celdran was arrested Thursday afternoon after he held a protest in front of the main altar of the Manila Cathedral while an ecumenical service was going on.

Celdran was arrested by police after he began shouting for the Catholic Church to "stop getting involved" in politics during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the "May They Be One Bible campaign," a joint effort by Catholics and Protestant leaders to distribute five million Bibles to five million poor Filipino families.

He also held up a placard with the word "Damaso," referring to the hated Spanish friar in Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere.

"Stop involving yourselves in politics!" shouted Celdran, who dressed up like Rizal and also had a top hat, inside the cavernous cathedral.

He later told reporters that he did the stunt because the bishops needed to "hear what the Filipinos are saying."

Whoah. This guy Celdran is a bold man, I suppose. Now if Celdran could stage the same stunt in a Muslim mosque during service, I would really be impressed.

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