Editorial: Beyond the RH bill-A A +A
Thursday, August 2, 2012
THE Catholic Church, seeing that the end game is near for the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill, has upped the ante as far as its opposition to the passage of the measure is concerned by holding massive rallies and exerting electoral pressure on lawmakers.
One such protest action, to be led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, is scheduled for Saturday at the Fuente Osmeña. Palma is also head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Some sectors have taken to task the Catholic Church hierarchy for flexing its muscle against what it considers as a progressive measure. But to be fair, the bishops seem to be honest in their belief that the bill, if passed into law, would be bad for Filipinos in the long run. And it’s not that they are using illegal methods to achieve their ends.
The point is, some people, like big businessmen, do far worse in either pushing for the passage of measures in Congress or blocking these---they even go to the extent of bribing lawmakers. So why the harsh criticism of the Church hierarchy’s moves?
The worry is apparently not solely on the manner the Church hierarchy is exerting pressure on lawmakers to prevent the passage of the RH bill but more so on its ramifications on policy making. If the bishops succeed in scaring a big chunk of the pro-RH bill lawmakers to abandon the measure, wouldn’t that be like the opening of Pandora’s box?
For some time, the proposition that a Catholic vote is non-existent has gained adherents and as a result, the Church has been derided for its perceived electoral weakness especially when compared to other religious groups like, say, the Iglesia ni Cristo.
The Catholic Church succeeding in blocking the passage of the RH bill through a combination of traditional protest actions and threats on the use of the ballot box could make the bishops conscious of their power, which they have been hesitant to use consistent with the “gospel” of the separation of Church and state, to influence the actions especially of elective government officials.
Beyond the RH bill controversy is therefore the larger question of whether the Catholic Church hierarchy, once it becomes like a sleeping giant awakened, would be responsible in its use of its power to influence the formulation of government policies.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 03, 2012.