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MANILA, March 25, 2012–An estimated 30,000-50,000 members of the Knights of Columbus and their families trekked from Intramuros to the Rajah Sulayman park on Roxas Blvd. yesterday to carry out the annual Walk for Life to manifest the group’s pro-life stand and demonstrate its strong opposition to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Dubbed with the theme “We Value Life” this year, the activity started with a 6:00 a.m. Eucharistic celebration at San Agustin Church, Intramuros, with Luzon State Chaplain and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco as main celebrant.
After the mass, participants from different Knights of Columbus Councils and other organizations assembled in front of the church then walked to Roxas Blvd., carrying streamers and placards identifying their group, and bearing life-affirming messages as well as expressions of anti-RH bill sentiments.
“Give us a chance to breathe because life is a wonderful gift,”” No to RH bill, We value life,” “Defend life,” “We fight for the Culture of Life, Against the Culture of Death,” “Ang buhay na isang regalo huwag sayangin, pahalagahan ito” and “Take my hand, not my life” read some of the placards that dotted the kilometric line of participants of varied ages, from a handful of preschool children and numerous elementary school and high school kids, to adults and quite a few seniors who were upbeat during most of the way to Rajah Sulayman where a program was held.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim commended the supposed concern of the RH bill’s proponents for caring for the women’s health issues but pointed out that the measure’s name can be deceiving.
“Ang hindi ko ho maintindihan, ang title ng proposed bill na ito, ‘reproductive health bill’. Ang sinasabi ng mga proponents nito, ay pinangangalagaan daw nila ‘yung kalusugan ng mga ina na manganganak dahil maaari daw mamatay sa panganganak at meron silang mga statistics na nagsasabi kung ilan ang namamatay sa panganganak,” Lim said.
“Sa biglang pandinig, napakagandang pakinggan — inaalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga ina natin.”
He segued into a personal testimony of living a welcoming attitude toward life and being contraceptives-free with his first wife of 44 years before she died and with whom he has eight children, and with his second wife with whom he has four children.
Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, known for her firm opposition to the RH bill as well as her prowess in discussing it in plenary debates, explained what makes the measure unnecessary and thereby unworthy of support.
Some 80 percent of the provisions in the RH bill, she said, are contained in the Magna Carta of Women which was signed into law in 2009.
“Nakalagay po sa proposed RH bill that we should provide pre-natal and post-natal care sa lahat ng mga babae dito sa Pilipinas. Iyang provision na ‘yan nasa Magna Carta na eh. Kapag sinabi niyo pong ‘access to all kinds of family planning methods,’ nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan. Kapag sinabi mong ‘the right to space your children,’ nasa Magna Carta ‘yan.”
“Kapag sinabi mong dapat mag-provide ng birthing facilities ang mga health centers nationwide, nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan. At ‘pag sinabi mong dapat magkaroon ng midwife, nurse at duktor ang mga health centers nationwide, nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan,” Magsaysay continued.
“So bakit pa natin kailangang ipasa ang RH bill? Eh dapat ngayon pinapatupad na po namin sa pamahalaan ‘yung provisions ng Magna Carta.”
The congresswoman also delved on the concept of essential medicines and how she regards the attempt to categorize birth control drugs and devices as “essential medicines” as senseless.
“Ang alam ko sa ‘essential medicine,’ ‘yan ay iniinom ng isang tao sapagkat siya ay may sakit, at kung sakaling inumin niya yung gamot, gagaling siya. Kung hindi naman pala sakit ang pregnancy, ibig sabihin walang sakit, so hindi mo pwedeng i-consider na ‘essential medicine’ ang condoms at contraceptives,” the solon explained.
The bigger picture that could explain the bill’s proponents’ motivation was revealed by Magsaysay.
“Ang sabi kasi nila, sa DoH, mas mabilis ang priority sa pagbili ng gamot kapag ‘essential medicine’ ang classification. Kaya gusto nilang lokohin tayong lahat at sabihin ang contraceptives ay dapat gawing ‘essential medicine,’ she said.
The Zambales congresswoman also mentioned that she would rather that students were taught values formation rather than sex education, as the youth need to learn to know and value their self-worth, understand principles such as integrity and focus on character building in general.
Allen Paolo Guballa, State Chief Squire, also spoke as part of the program, which ended with the release of white balloons as the song “Habang May Buhay” was played.
The Walk for Life took place a day before the Day of the Unborn, a special day officially designated in several countries including the Philippines for celebrating the sacredness of the lives of babies before birth. Besides the Philippines, March 25 is marked with a pro-life theme in El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Slovakia, Cuba, Austria and Romania. (CBCP for Life)