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CBCP: RH bill 'gift-wrapped' for greater crimes vs women

Philippine Catholic bishops on Saturday accused the government of "gift-wrapping" the controversial Reproductive Health bill to make it look like a gift for maternal health care. In a pastoral statement, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines reiterated its stand that contraception threatens to harm the nation and corrupt the soul. "The RH Bill is being gift wrapped to look like a gift for maternal health care. It is not so. It will lead to greater crimes against women," CBCP vice president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement posted on the CBCP news site Saturday, hours before the start of the traditional Simbang Gabi. Also, the CBCP urged the Filipino people to pray for some 64 members of the House of Representatives to vote against the RH Bill on third reading this Monday. Villegas signed the pastoral statement on behalf of CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who is abroad. Palace: avoid name-calling In an interview on state-run dzRB radio, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday asked the anti-RH Bill groups, including the Catholic Church, to stop what it called name-calling and misleading arguments on the issue. “There should be no name calling. We should confine ourselves to issue at hand. It does not help to debate on personalities and personal issues,” she said. Also, She appealed to Catholic Church officials to respect the opinion of those supporting the RH bill, in the same way the Palace has respected their “individual opinions.” “Whether it is a contrary opinion, we respect the individual opinions of members of the clergy when it comes to the issue or responsible parenthood. In the same vein we hope that these members will likewise respect the opinion and position of those who believe in Responsible Parenthood bill,” she said. The House of Representatives passed the bill on second reading early last Thursday with a narrow margin of 113 to 104. The controversial measure seeks to improve parenting habits and allocate government resources to ensure public access to both natural and artificial birth control methods. The Catholic Church has been vocal in opposing as it favors only natural family planning method. False promises In the same CBCP article, Villegas also said the RH bill promises the poor a better life, but "it will not be so." Instead, he said the poor can rise from their misery through more accessible education, better hospitals and lesser government corruption. "Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care," he added. Villegas also said that with the RH bill, the youth may be "made to believe that sex before marriage is acceptable provided you know how to avoid pregnancy." "Is this moral? Those who corrupt the minds of children will invoke divine wrath on themselves," he said. Moral fiber at risk Villegas said the RH Bill, if passed into law in its present form, will put the moral fiber of the nation at risk. "As we your bishops have said in the past, a contraceptive mentality is the mother of an abortion mentality. The wide and free accessibility of contraceptives, even to the youth, will result in the destruction of family life and in greater violence against women," he said. Plea to congressmen The CBCP congratulated the one 104 members of the House of Representatives who voted "No" to the RH Bill last Thursday. "You have voted courageously, despite all pressures, to stand up for what is right and true. The Church will remember you as the heroes of our nation, those who have said no to corruption and who care for the true welfare of the people, especially the poor. May you continue to be steadfast and not waiver in your stand against moral corruption," it said. But it pleaded with the 64 congressmen who have not voted, "to be enlightened and stand up for the Truth." "The truth is that to be pro-child, pro-mother and pro-poor, we must resist all threats against them. This is justice. Stand up for it; defend it; do not be swayed by worldly pressures, and be the champion of the people who voted for you. God knows and sees what you are doing," the statement said. The CBCP also asked the Filipino Catholic faithful to "share in praying that our congressmen and women will be faithful to their call to serve the true interests of the Filipino people." "This means upholding life, saying no to contraception which is corruption, and being faithful to the Christ Child who was pro-woman, pro-child and pro-poor," it said. — LBG, GMA News