Bishop: Aquino to woo lawmakers on RH bill-A A +A
Sunday, August 5, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- Malacañang is going an extra mile to push for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill especially in the House of Representatives, where a vote to terminate the debates is set on Tuesday, said a prelate from Batangas on Sunday.
Information reaching Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles revealed that President Benigno Aquino III has scheduled a meeting around lunchtime Monday with several lawmakers to convince them to vote for House Bill 4244.
Based on the President's schedule sent to Malacanang reporters on Sunday, Aquino has a scheduled caucus with members of the Liberal Party at the Palace at 1 p.m. Monday.
When asked about the caucus in a radio interview, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the meeting has nothing to do with the RH measure and the agenda will only be "party matters."
"The caucus is not with House leaders, it's with the Liberal Party...Presumably matters that concern the party will be discussed," she said.
Arguelles expressed confidence that any move of Aquino to persuade lawmakers to favor RH bill will be unfruitful especially for the lawmakers within his diocese.
"All of our lawmakers (in Batangas) are pro-life. I don't think they will be dissuaded," he said.
These lawmakers include Representatives Tomas Apacible (first district), Hermilando Mandanas (second district), Nelson Collantes (third district), and Mark Mendoza (fourth district).
The supposed meeting comes two days after a massive crowd gathered at the historic Edsa Shrine upon the prodding of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to push for the rejection of the bill.
The CBCP has been the staunchest opponent of the RH bill, labeling it as an anti-life measure since it promotes artificial family planning methods.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas said they want the younger generation to see the bigger picture of the possible problems the bill can make instead of resolve.
"We are old but God made us old so we can be reminders for you not to forget our Filipino values, the commandments of God and the rules of good character," said Villegas in a speech in Dagupan City late Saturday.
The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate noted how such a role was also adopted by Pope Paul VI when he said that artificial contraception could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.
Villegas, being unsympathetic to the RH bill, is different from looking at a wider scope of the problem of infant and maternal mortality.
The government's Family Health Survey shows a rise in the number of maternal deaths from 162 per 100,000 live births in 2006 to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011.
In 2008, the international research group Guttmacher Institute revealed there are more than half a million induced abortions happening every year in the country.
Meanwhile, pro-RH legislators and members of civil society groups vowed to drum up support for the bill before Tuesday's vote.
Pro-RH groups will culminate their seven-day candle light vigil outside the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday. Expected to attend as well are Catholic-run colleges and universities like Miriam College and De La Salle University.
The lack of a reproductive health law victimizes mostly poor women and their families, National Anti-Poverty Commission Undersecretary Florencia Cassanova-Dorotan said.
She said maternal deaths and teenage pregnancies generally occur because women have no access to the right information about family planning and responsible parenthood, no freedom to choose the most appropriate method of family planning, and the lack of reproductive health services for women.
The members of Akbayan Party list will also join the pro-RH rally as they plan to wear purple shirts and wave purple ribbons when they march to Congress Monday.
Akbayan-women called on Congress to act as a "midwife" to give birth to a very important piece of legislation that will help Filipinos plan and manage their families, drastically reduce the number of deaths due to unsafe childbirths, unwanted pregnancies, and the rate of infection of sexually transmitted diseases
The United Nation also expressed support for the passage of RH bill, saying the "proposed law will fundamentally enable the government to meet its commitments to its citizens.”
"It will also aid President Benigno Aquino III to deliver his obligations as articulated in his social contract with the Filipino people," the UN Philippines said in a statement.
Based on its own "extensive studies," the UN finds it adequate to help the Filipino people face the problems on maternal and infant mortality.
These, it noted, includes giving couples information on family planning methods; helping couples practice birth spacing; making it less likely for mothers and infants to die during pregnancy, childbirth or after delivery; and reduce spread of HIV/Aids.
It also said the bill will be able to promote breastfeeding; prevent teenage pregnancy by educating school children; and allowing poor women to exercise their right to have the number of children they want. (Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/HDT/Sunnex)