Following reports that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is asking President Aquino not to ‘rush’ the much delayed Reproductive Health (RH) bill to a vote, a group of women’s advocates working with grassroots communities said that the bishops are once again misleading the public and making a mockery of the country’s democracy.
Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) added that in doing so, the CBCP wants to impose its dogma by dictating how citizens should live their lives and how Congress should work.
“The RH bill has been pending in Congress for more than 10 years,” Angsioco said. “How can more than 10 years of never ending debates be labeled as rushing?” she commented. Angsioco emphasized that the RH bill is perhaps the most debated bill in our country’s legislative history.
Angsioco added, “in fact, because anti-RH legislators like Sen. Sotto have run out of arguments, they now resort to witch hunting of the bill’s advocates and insist on the existence of an imaginary international conspiracy that will legalize abortion in the country through the RH bill.”
The CBCP’s call on the President only proves the contrary of what they say: they do not have the numbers in Congress. “The claim that anti-RH will win if the RH goes to a vote is just one of the manufactured lies to mislead the public, especially the lawmakers who are still quiet about their position”, explained Angioco.
“Why else would the bishops block the voting if indeed, they have the numbers?” she said. “If the antis really have what it takes to defeat the bill, they should push for its voting, and not derail the democratic legislative process,” she added.
According to Angsioco, history proves that bishops are not undefeatable as regards democratic lawmaking is concerned. Angioco recalls that decades ago, the bishops also staunchly opposed the inclusion of the Rizal course in school curricula. She explained that the bishops did not want the life and works of Rizal to be studied by the Filipino youth in school perhaps because of the national hero’s critical writings against the Roman Catholic Church. “But the bishops lost the battle in the legislative process,” she said.
The patriots in Congress rose to the occasion and voted in favor of the Rizal course. “As they will again, in the RH Bill,” Angsioco said. “The bishops are threatened because they know that once again, they will lose,” she stressed.
Like in the Rizal Course issue, again, the Filipino people need the patriots in Congress to heed their call – pass a law that will enable the government to provide the people with access to comprehensive RH education and services. “Enough of the debates, vote on the RH bill now! Even President Aquino wants this to happen,” Angsioco ended