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MANILA, Dec. 31, 2011–The crusade for a culture of life is an advocacy of truth, and based on the goings-on in 2011 alone, the pro-life advocacy has covered a lot of ground and, inadvertently, saw much success in promoting the truth.
Though reproductive health (RH) legislation in the Philippines is not new — being proposed, discussed, rejected and resurrected for decades now — 2011 saw significant developments in its promotion as well as in its opposition. The year ended with the RH bill reaching the period of interpellation in both chambers of Congress, heated debates in progress when legislative sessions went on adjournment on the final month of the year. Mass actions such as rallies and prayer vigils to express opposition to the bill happened not just in the country’s capital, but in many other cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Civil society seemed to wake up and to the folly of the legislative measure and wanted to be heard loud and clear.
Never has an issue divided the nation as much as RH has, and with more of the truth coming out and, hopefully, enlightening the minds and hearts of more Filipinos, this division will eventually be healed, and unity, attained.
With this hope we begin the new year and look back at what went on in 2011 through the words uttered by various players in the quest to have the culture of life prevail in Philippine society.
“Banal ang pag-aasawa; banal ang pagtatalik sapagka’t ito ay kalakip ng pagbibigay ng buhay na galing sa Panginoong Diyos. Hindi ito laru-laruan na ituturo sa mga bata sa paggamit ng goma, lobo o condom, para iwasan daw ang sakit? Bakit mga bata ang tuturuan ng ganitong laro? Hindi po ba ang tamang ituro sa kabataan ay ang magandang halimbawa ng matatanda at ang kahalagahan ng buhay, ang kabanalan ng pagpipigil sa sarili na ang tawag ay disiplina? Ang tawag po noong una ay kapag may pagpipigil, mayroong disiplina at paggalang at magkakaroon din ng Karakter ang tao. Ngayon ang gustong ipamulat sa kabataan ay ito: gamitin ang goma, maglaro kayo! Ganyan kabarato ang buhay ng tao ngayon.” – former Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, at the March 25 pro-life rally to which the prelate issued a call, filling the Quirino Grandstand with a 100,000 to 200,000-strong crowd — based on the venue’s capacity — of pro-lifers who came to demonstrate their protest against the coercive RH bill
“[In the RH bill] you are reducing a human being into nothing but an object. A human being is rational. He is endowed by God with will. We have a will to say no to ourselves—puwede mong pigilin ang iyong sarili. Kung ang tao ay nakakaramdam ng sexual urges sapagka’t tao ka, maaari mong pigilin at maaari kang magtimpi.
“Hindi po tayo parang mga aso sa kalye. If they are in heat, they have to do the sexual act because they have no will to control their actions. But we are human.” – Atty. Marwil Llasos, a staff apologist for Defensores Fidei Foundation, during an anti-RH symposium in June at St. Isabel College, attended by high school and college students as well as faculty members
“Ang hindi ko maintindihan dito, bakit kinakailangang sampung taon pa lamang ay mag-aral na ng sexuality education. From grade 5 to 4th year, so anim na taon. Ano po ito? Kailangan po ba ng PhD para sa sex education?” – Atty. Concepcion “Girlie” Noche, president of Alliance for the Family Inc. (ALFI) during the May 8 Harapan/ RH Bill: Ipasa o Ibasura television debate on ABS-CBN, adding that it is the government and not the parents who have formulated the mandatory sex education program the RH bill seeks to carry out in all private and public schools
“Wala na nga pong obligasyon na ito, tinanggal na nga ito.”
“Walang basehan ‘yung apprehension na walang makaka-graduate. Exempted sa pag-attend, exempted din sa pagkuha ng periodic tests. Ang mga estudyante po ay makaka-graduate.” – Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman in a May 18 plenary debate, explaining that the provision on mandatory sex education has been amended after interpellator Saranggani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao expressed concern about the program and the possibility of more students failing to graduate should their parents instruct them not to attend sex ed classes
“Amended na ang provision na ito. Hindi mo yata narinig dahil nag-eensayo ka para sa laban mo. Incomplete ang impormasyong ibinigay sa iyo. Hindi ito sapilitan.” - Lagman in the same session, responding to Pacquiao’s query on penalizing employers who choose to follow their religious convictions
(The plenary debate concluded with the neophyte solon discovering that no such amendments had been and could be made on the bill — in contrast to what the veteran solon repeatedly claimed, since the measure had not yet reached the period of amendments. The congressman from Albay had no response to give to the revelation.)
“‘Yung pinagpipilitang State intervention, itanong ko lamang po sa mga nagpo-propose ng bill na ito: Pinagdududahan po ba natin ang kakayahan ng mga magulang?” – Rev. Fr. Melvin Castro, Executive Secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) at the May 8 Harapan television debate, commenting on the sex ed program and the inconsistency shown by government representatives on their concurrence that parents have the primary duty to educate their children
“The RH proponents, ang gusto nila, ang solusyon sa kahirapan is to reduce the population growth rate. All your statements are bolstering the argument that we are poor because we are many…That’s why we are saying, we are poor not because we are many; we are poor because of the mismanagement of our economy. We are poor because of graft and corruption! If there is proper management of resources just like what’s being done in other countries, we will not suffer the fate that we are suffering now. The solution you are offering is not the solution.” – former Senator Joey Lina during the same television debate
“Kung may bansang pinagpala ng Diyos sa kalikasan, ito ang Pilipinas. We have so much mineral resources; gold, which is so precious, is abundant in the Philippines. Almost all minerals needed by industries are here. We have what it takes to sustain a big population if we handle our resources properly.
“We must make it clear in our minds how fundamentally wrong this proposed law and how destructive it will be for us. It goes against God, faith, everything that we stand for as a nation. It is against our values, it will break up the family, our relations… [and disregards] primarily the value of life.” - former Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza during the November “Philippines for Life” National Congress in Cebu
“To the argument that curbing population is the solution to poverty, I would say that it is not the ultimate solution. The ultimate solution to poverty alleviation, besides good governance, is education.” - Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay in a pro-life symposium in Caloocan City in June
“The proposed P3 billion appropriation for the RH bill, if put towards education, can help secure the future of young Filipinos. That amount can build 4,644 new classrooms…or it can subsidize the college education of 300,000 scholars — a chance for underprivileged student achievers to earn their diploma.” – from the official statement of Nine Young Legislators (9YL) released in September, to express their conviction that the RH bill is not the solution to the country’s problems
“Human life is a gift. Human beings are assets and not liabilities. And the true wealth of a nation is really in its people.” – Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, at the September launch of 9YL and Youth United for the Philippines (YUP!). (CBCP for Life)