MANILA, Jan. 28, 2017– The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines conferred its highest award, the Jorge Barlin Golden Cross, to pro-life lawyer Maria Concepcion Noche.
The bishops cited Noche for her “outstanding and genuine service” to the Church, “exemplifying the ideals” of the first Filipino bishop Barlin.
The CBCP, led by its president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, gave the award to Noche on Saturday at the Pius XII Center in Manila where the bishops are holding their 114th plenary meeting.
Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life, said the Church recognized the “missionary disciple” for her efforts to protect the sanctity of human life.
“She has been steadfast in the defense of the Catholic teaching and Filipino values in particular with the rights of every Filipino from conception to natural death,” Garcera said.
Noche heads the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc. which was among the groups that questioned the provisions of the RH law before the Supreme Court.
She also served as the counsel of various anti-RH groups during the hearing at the high court.
In 2014, the SC upheld the constitutionality of the RH law but struck down several “unconstitutional” provisions of the measure that pro-life advocates found highly objectionable.
The anti-RH groups particularly lauded the SC for declaring unconstitutional part of Section 7 which requires health facilities owned by religious groups to provide family planning methods.
The court also junked contraceptives that may cause or induce abortion and the prohibition against health care providers who refuse to perform RH services.
In her acceptance speech, Noche recalled the difficulties they’ve been through in defending a “popularly unpopular position” on the RH law.
“I’m truly grateful to God for the singular opportunity to put my legal knowledge and skills at the service of life,” she said.
“This recognition comes as the most welcome consolation and a much needed boost and inspiration to spur me on,” said Noche. (CBCPNews)