Monday, November 26, 2012

Reproductive Health Bill Voting in Congress

By Lilybeth G. Ison

Malacanang Monday said the position taken by legislators or any candidate on the Reproductive Health Bill should be respected by everybody including the Catholic church.

"If the position taken by any politician, any candidate is based on his own appreciation of his conscience, I think that has to be respected by anybody including the Church," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told a press briefing.

He cited the statement by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, which stated that "every politician, every legislator has to examine his conscience and, at the end of the day, if his conscience points him to this or that vote, I think we have to respect that and not threaten that particular candidate with dire political consequences."

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life Vice Chairman and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles earlier said it is high time Filipinos used their religious beliefs in rejecting candidates who are not following the Church's teachings.

He said elective officials have long been snubbing the so-called "Catholic vote," which he believes is still a force to be reckoned with.

"Kaya kapag mayroong kandidato na hindi sumusunod sa utos ng Diyos, dapat tanggihan yung mga 'yun. At kailangan na magkaroon ngayon ng Catholic vote. Dapat ipakita natin ang pagiging tunay na Katoliko. Marami diyan ay mga pekeng Katoliko, yun ang naghahari sa atin," said Arguelles.

Abad, however, stressed that Congress is a legislative assembly and it succeeds when there is an interplay or competition of ideas.

"If you try to suppress contrary ideas, then you will not get the best policy out of a deliberative assembly like Congress. So I don't think that's fair to do because in a democracy, it's the competition in a marketplace of ideas that brings out the best," he noted.

Abad said every policymaker "should examine his conscience not threats, not rewards."

But ultimately, he said, "I think what is best for which this policy has been introduced which is really to address the very poor who have no means -- information as well as resources -- to be able to plan in a responsible way the size and number of his family."

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the proponents of the controversial RH Bill at the House Representatives, said that 71percent of Catholics favor the enactment of thr said measure into law.

Lagman said that even the Social Weather Station survey also revealed that among registered voters surveyed, "most will vote for pro-RH bill candidates," with 38 percent of Filipino voters choosing to vote for candidates who support the RH bill while only 6 percent said they will not vote for candidates supportive of the measure.

Pulse Asia also reported that 93 percent of Filipinos consider it important to have the ability to plan their families and 82 percent believe government should inform couples about all methods of family planning.

"This is consistently validated and documented in all nationwide surveys for many years now," he said.

Lagman said that "RH advocates should not fear a negative Catholic vote because the alleged backlash has no empirical basis."

No comments: