Palace: Avoid extreme views on RH issue

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Sunday, November 7, 2010


MANILA - Malacañang advised Reproductive Health (RH) bill advocates and antagonists to avoid expressing "extreme views" that could lead to divisions among sectors of society.

Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said a dialogue with Catholic leaders is being set for further discussion of the measure.

"Ang hinahangad po natin ay magkaroon ng malawak na talakayan at iwasan yung mga extreme views," said Coloma.

President Benigno Aquino III, who earlier sought dialogues with parties involved, reiterated that couples should be given choices for family planning.

The President said he will not change his stand.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a press statement that it will consult legal and medical experts as it gears for a dialogue with Malacañang.

"We bishops are aware of our limitations. Since our major line is on morality, we would be enlisting help from the lay people who would be with us representing their specific expertise," said Bishop Nereo Odchimar, CBCP President.

"Majority of the church in the Philippines is composed of lay people. So it would be a concerted presentation on the position of the church not only by the CBCP, but in the totality," he added.

Catholic leaders also admitted that the real fight on the RH issue is at the House of Representatives as numbers of lawmakers backing the measure continue to increase.

There are seven bills pushing for the RH that are still pending at the House committee level.

Odchimar said the Catholic Church would continue fighting for the protection of life whatever the outcome.

"Whether we win or lose, we still have to preach the gospel, (and) preach the position of the Catholic Church," he said.

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of seven RH bills pending in the House, meanwhile, reiterated that the bill's central agenda is freedom of informed choice.

He added that there will neither be reward nor compulsion for the acceptance of family planning.

Lagman also said Catholic prelates are seeing phantom jailers when they expressed willingness in going into detentions following their renewed protests against the RH bill.

He also noted that the claim that the RH advocacy is being funded by an international lobby is "completely baseless and malicious".

"The RH bill is a purely Philippine initiative in recognition of the critical need to promote reproductive health anchored on protection of human rights, enhancement of maternal and infant health, and attaining sustainable human development," the lawmaker added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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