CBCP Sec-Gen puzzled by P-noy’s sudden RH prioritization, enjoins faithful to act

MANILA, August 18, 2011–After the president’s noted silence on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill during the July 25 State of the Nation Address (SONA), and the measure’s absence from this year’s first Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting agenda, President Benigno S. Aquino III’s directive to include the bill among 13 priority measures has elicited more questions than assertions from another Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official.

When asked to comment on the president’s recent endorsement of the RH bill, CBCP Secretary-General Msgr. Juanito Figura replied with questions instead.

“No mention of the bill was made in his SONA–was it or was it not a priority when he was preparing his SONA? Why is it a priority now all of a sudden?” he asked, noting that it had been over three weeks since the SONA and the president remained quiet about the matter until yesterday’s LEDAC meeting.

“I am a bit worried about possible reactions which may range from confusion, dismay, mistrust,” Figura added.

The secretary-general said he is praying very hard as he anticipates “more serious discussions and study on this ‘fine-tuned’ version of the bill. Does it still carry the characteristic contraceptive pro-abortion agenda? Will it still advance a new rendering of ‘conscience,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘rights,’ ‘responsible parenthood’ and ‘family’?”

“Will it still use a lot of taxpayers’ money? And very importantly, has the penalty clause on violations been truly omitted?” Figura continued.

Citing Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma’s statements following the recent development, the secretary-general said that he “sympathizes with Archbishop Palma’s dismay over the prioritization that P-noy has given to the RH bill, now being called RP bill.”

The CBCP official ended by sounding off a call to the lay people to stand up to protect and preserve the culture of life.

“I enjoin the lay people especially the youth to initiate actions, to reach out to everyone who believes in the sanctity of human life and family, to use your skills. We are in coordination with a number of lay groups that are working along this line and would be willing to help those who would like to start getting involved,” Figura said. (Diana Uichanco)

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