MANILA, Dec. 18, 2012—Though disappointed over the outcome of Monday’s vote on House Bill 4244 on third and final reading, pro-lifers who monitored the proceedings at the House of Representatives kept their eye on the ball, acknowledging irregularities in the manner in which the measure was passed and focusing on the expected demands of the advocacy.
Asked what’s next for the pro-life movement, Linda Valenzona – an expert on population and demographics who has been engaged in the life and family advocacy for many years – looked to other means of upholding society with life-affirming ideals.
“It’s very clear that in this particular forum, we’re outvoted. We really have to look for another forum, either to the streets or… with the ballot. Though [the elections] are kind of far,” Valenzona said.
What ‘conscience vote’?
She decried the mythical “conscience vote” that the administration had repeatedly referred to, pointing out the manner in which the votes needed for the reproductive health (RH) bill’s passage were obtained.
“In the first place, both in the second and the third reading, Secretary Abad, Carandang and Mar Roxas were seen in the ‘inner sanctum’ — yes, today also. And some people even saw the distribution of envelopes here. The allowances were released,” she disclosed.
“So how can you talk about independence of the two branches of government? If I were on their side, it’s an empty victory because they got it by dint of spending so much money in order to buy the votes.”
Mainstream media last week reported the presence of the Cabinet officials at the House of Representatives during the December 12 vote on second reading, generating heated reactions from citizens who pointed out the violation of the separation of the legislature and the executive branches of government, as well as the impropriety in the Palace officials’ dealings with the solons.
Valenzona lamented the obvious lack of integrity with which legislation was being conducted in the case of the heavily protested measure.
“It seems that buying votes has already penetrated the topmost echelons of government because it’s [become] the same. [It used to be buying votes among the supposedly ‘uneducated’ people, but here in the top echelons of government we are still buying votes,” she said.
‘Fight has just begun’
Gerald Cenir admitted being saddened upon hearing the applause from the pro-RH camp.
“I was half-expecting a ‘yes’ but I was still hoping that common sense would prevail among our representatives. My feeling right now is that the real fight has just begun,” the young professional, a member of Filipinos for Life, remarked.
Others expressed their optimism about the consequences of the recent development.
Church shines forth amid darkness
John Gregory Reyes said that “even in this darkness we shall see our holy mother Church shine forth. The gospel of life is always true even if it is trampled upon, so that’s the beauty amid the ugliness,” the Marikina resident said.
Reyes believes that God will prevail, adding that “We have to be hopeful… we believe in the Catholic Church and if it is needed for us to shed our blood – maybe not physically but through the insults that we [encounter] – I’m ready for it. We should be ready for it,” he explained with quiet confidence.
Though his congressman registered a “yes” vote, “I’m not judging him,” he clarified, but continued that Filipinos should vote for politicians “who will represent the people and not the pork barrel or the four people from Malacañang.”
“All four [Cabinet members] were here because we saw them outside. Dumaan kasi ‘yung car nila doon sa harapan pa namin,” he said.
Mao Almadrones, a University of the Philippines student who had been present at the plenary hall proceedings the past several weeks with other UP for Life members, explained how the contrast between honesty and dishonesty among House members has inspired him to put the virtue in top priority in everything he has been doing. He and his fellow UP for life members will remember this day well, he added.
“We will stand proud that we fought and we did everything, and we will exhaust everything. As they said, ‘until our last breath’ we will fight for the faith… and not only for the faith but also for the Filipino people,” Almadrones said.
The student urged other youth to become more actively involved in the crusade to uphold life-affirming ideals in society.
“For us in the anti-RH side, the battle is not yet finished. And it has not yet been won by the other side,” he said. (CBCP for Life)