-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Filipino Bishops Call on Voters to Uphold Sanctity of Life
Prelates Make Effort to Derail Passage of Controversial RH Bill
MANILA, NOV. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Several Filipino Catholic bishops sent a powerful message to their critics who are pushing the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill: Do not underestimate us.
Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela de Basilan said the birth control measure is a serious issue that must be dealt with by the Church by campaigning against those who are favoring the bill.
The RH bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.
Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.
"If the bishops are really determined to campaign against those who are pro-RH bill, I think we can come up with a Catholic vote," Jumoad said.
The bishop said it is the Church's moral responsibility to uphold the sanctity of life and they will do efforts to reject or derail the passage of the RH bill even if it means pushing for a Catholic vote.
"If it's about the doctrine of the Church then we have to stand by it," said Jumoad.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a staunch supporter of the RH bill, yesterday downplayed the bishops' call for Catholic voters to reject candidates who are not following the Church's teachings. Santiago claimed that the so-called Catholic vote is nothing but a "political myth" but warned that for the Church to push for it is "unconstitutional".
But Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said that whether there is a Catholic vote or not, what is certain is they will intensify their campaign against the bill and its proponents and supporters.
"What they think of a myth today may be a reality tomorrow," Arguelles said. "We are trying to encourage the good Catholics and there already those who are responding to our call."
In South Cotabato, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel said efforts are also underway in his diocese to campaign against pro-RH bill bets.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon also said they are intensifying their voters' education campaign particularly against the RH bill, corruption and other issues.
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