MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Joker Arroyo on Monday likened the reproductive health bill to another controversial measure that was also opposed by the Catholic Church more than 50 years ago.
In his speech, Arroyo said ten Sen. Claro M. Recto authored a bill that would make Jose Rizal's two novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as required reading in all schools.
The bill was met with opposition by the Catholic Church, which said several passages from the novels put the church in a bad light.
As a compromise, Sen. Jose Laurel proposed that expurgated versions be taught in elementary and high schools while the unexpurgated versions would be taught at the college level.
"No one lost face. None were vilified," he said.
Arroyo noted that statesmanship that was sorely needed in the controversy over the reproductive health bill was absent during the deliberations.
Nevertheless, he said he is giving his conditional approval to the bill, noting that "another stab at birth control is worth a try."
He also said he expected the Catholic Church to put up a fight because of onerous and provocative provisions in the two different versions of the bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
"Once could not expect the Catholic Church to surrender its doctrinal and moral position on such a life and death issue without putting up a fight, There are statements of policy equating human life with mere economic value that are obnoxious to Christian morals. There are provisions that violate Christian conscience and establish secular humanism as supreme over all other belief systems," he said.
Arroyo said he has misgivings about the bill since it could be vulnerable to constitutional challenge especially on religious conscience grounds.
ANC, December 17, 2012