MANILA — Surigao del Sur Bishop Nereo Odchimar was criticized Friday for not speaking up on alleged corruption in the past administration but doing so on President Benigno Aquino III's support for reproductive rights.

“How I wish Bishop Odchimar was similarly vocal when the nation was confronted by abuses and excesses of the Arroyo administration,” Senator Franklin Drilon, a member of Aquino's Liberal Party, said in reaction to Odchimar reportedly threatening Aquino with excommunication for considering support for the use of artificial contraception.

“Sadly, we did not hear from him then,” he said.

Drilon said Odchimar's “hysterical reaction” was uncalled for since the President has not changed government policy on family planning and is open to dialogue with the Church.

He said both sides of the contraceptives debate have much to talk about because “we believe government and the Catholic Church share a common vision, which is addressing the mass poverty problem of the country and providing a better society for our people.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan, also a member of the Liberal Party, said on his Twitter account Thursday night that Odchimar's reported threat to excommunicate the President was unfortunate and uncalled for.

Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), released a statement on the CBCP denying that he threatened Aquino with excommunication.

He said the Catholic Church is open to dialogue but it is mulling holding rallies to show its opposition to the use of artificial contraceptives. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)