PJ worried party votes will win over conscience

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

REP. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, third district) is worried that party votes in favor of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill might prevail over conscience votes, as he observed that the difference in number between “pros” and “antis” has been narrowed.

“Kung conscience vote lang I am confident that the ‘no’ votes will win. Pero I’m hearing that some parties might have a party stand and even those who are opposed to it might come together,” said Rep. Garcia, who flew to Manila yesterday noon.

Even if Congress approves the bill, pro-life advocates will not end anti-RH bill campaign.


Dr. Rene Bullecer, Human Life International (HLI) country director, said they are willing to question the legality of the bill before the Supreme Court or conduct civil disobedience.

Yesterday, a pro-life rally was held at Fuente Osmeña. The rallyists included members of HLI and the Knights of Columbus, nuns and some parishioners of St. Joseph in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City.


The rally was held on the eve of the votation for the approval or rejection of House Bill 4424, or the “Act providing for a comprehensive policy on responsible parenthood, reproductive health, population development, and for other purposes.”

Rep. Garcia said he is hearing reports from “credible” sources that some legislators might try to push to end the period of amendment and move to come to a vote on the bill.

This is the reason he rushed to Congress yesterday to attend the session, the congressman said.

Gov. Gwen Garcia said her father, Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu, second district) and Pablo John, her brother, support the stand of the Roman Catholic Church opposing the RH bill.

Pablo told reporters yesterday that the longer it takes for the bill to get passed in Congress, the less support it will gain.

So, legislators were forced to pass the bill.

He said all six congressmen in Cebu are against RH Bill, but “at least I can speak for those who are allied with us.”

Pablo John admitted that three weeks ago he was confident that the no vote” against the RH bill would prevail.

“But if you ask me that now, I’m not as sure as I was three weeks ago,” he said.

Party stand

Pablo John explained that the “conscience vote” prevailed three weeks ago. But now, he is hearing from sources that some parties are coming up with a “party stand” to get to their side, including those who opposed the bill.

“It’s very fluid right now. Siguro kung imo nang kuwanon karon, ligas-ligas ra gyud na ang numero (If you will get the numbers, the difference is very slim),” Pablo John said.

However, Bullecer is confident that the bill will not be approved, after they conducted a loyalty check among the legislators over the weekend.

He said around 158 out of about 280 legislators are going to vote against the RH bill.

Bullecer said the group's next move would depend on the stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).


The Filipino bishops led by CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma reminded congressmen that “society needs laws to unite rather than divide.”

“We need law(s) to affirm and protect the truth about the dignity of the human person, who has been created in the very image of God; the sanctity of the family, the basic social unit, which even our Constitution recognizes as the foundation of the nation, and the inviolability of the social institution of marriage, which the Constitution likewise recognizes as the foundation of the family,” Palma said.

Leaders of the Catholic Church opposed the bill because of contentious issues, such as the use of artificial contraceptives, sexual education for adolescents, and penalties for government workers who would refuse to teach artificial planning methods.

Church leaders also refused to attend the deliberation on the amendments of the bill early this year, where the penalties and provision on ideal family size were struck out.

Palma, in his statement, said “as politics allows free men and women to participate in the divine governance of the universe, governments must enact laws whose reason and justice emanate from God.”

“Be not afraid,” added Palma, referring to legislators who may be under pressure by “the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 12, 2012.

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