Bishops fear railroading of RH Bill

Posted at 08/18/11 11:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Catholic bishops are sounding the alarm over President Benigno Aquino III's prioritization of the Reproductive Health Bill, which could lead lawmakers to railroad the passage of the measure.

Fr. Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Commission on Family and Life said anything is possible because Aquino gave his marching order to pass the legislation.

The CBCP official called on legislators to give a healthy debate on Malacañang’s version of the proposed measure, the Responsible Parenthood bill, a chance.

“Our appeal to the Lower House is not to shorten the period of debate. Let the people hear the merits and demerits of the bill,” a CBCPNews report quoted Castro as saying.

Castro said passing the RH bill would promote a "contraceptive mentality."

“Whatever they call it, in the end and in the final analysis, the core elements that we reject like artificial contraception and sex education are still there,” he said.

The birth control measure is among the 13 priority measures pushed by Aquino during Tuesday’s meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Aquino expects a “expeditious action” on the priority measures, saying that by his next State of the Nation Address (Sona) “we will be reporting a lot of these as actual laws.”

Castro has questioned Malacañang’s supposed amendments of the RH bill to make it more acceptable to various stakeholders like the deletion of a provision fixing the ideal number of children in children to two.

Other provisions that Aquino wants amended are changing the appropriate age for teaching sex education to children at 11 years old and giving parents the option to hold sex education talks by them.

The President also wants Church-based hospitals to have the right whether or not they want to distribute artificial or natural family planning methods.