MANILA, Dec. 13, 2012— Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has described as ‘tragic’ this morning’s vote by the House of Representatives to approve the “reproductive health” bill.
Lawmakers voted by 113-104 in favor of the controversial population control measure at second reading through a nominal voting that lasted for around five hours.
Aside from promoting the use of artificial contraceptives, the measure also imposes a condition, which according to critics, discriminates poor people.
Among the provisions of the bill states that: “The State shall also promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.”
“The vote in favor of the RH bill in Congress is unfortunate and tragic,” said Tagle in a statement issued this morning before he left for Vietnam for the meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
The head of the Philippine Catholic Church’s most influential archdiocese, however, said that the Church will not concede defeat in its fight against the RH bill.
“We do not take it as a defeat of truth – for truth shall prevail, especially the truth about human life, marriage and the family,” said Tagle.
As the Aquino administration is aggressive in pushing the measure, he said they will also continue to teach the sanctity of human life.
“This vote leads us to further commit the Church, specifically the Archdiocese of Manila to the service of the poor, of the family, of women, of infants and children,” Tagle said.
“We will work harder to promote the sanctity of human life and of the human person, the integral education of the youth, the access of the poor to social and medical services, the preservation of the true meaning of marriage, and stewardship of creation,” he added.
The archbishop also lauded the lawmakers, lay people and organizations who “worked hard and tirelessly in a variety of ways to expose the flaws” of the measure “to form consciences and to contribute to the search for the common good.”
Other Catholic bishops also said that they will continue their campaign against the RH bill which now moves to third and final reading next week.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, former CBCP president, said, “whatever is God’s will be done, whoever wins or whoever loses, God’s will be done.”
Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, for his part, called on the faithful “to be more vigilant and responsive to the ways of the Holy Spirit.”
“(The Holy Spirit) who can transform (initial) setbacks into more lasting and life-giving though surprising outcome,” he said.
He also rallied the people to have faith and take courage as “we continue the struggle for life.”
Over in the Diocese of Balanga, Bishop Ruperto Santos said, “the fight is not yet over.”
He said they will continue to “inform the people, pray harder for their enlightenment and be touched by God.”
He added they “will not be discouraged (by the passage of the RH bill) and go on resisting it.”
For Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo, he described the exercise as “money over principles, convenience over morality.”
“We have to do a lot of forming an informed and correct conscience,” the 74-year old prelate said.
In Mindanao, Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo is still hoping that President Benigno Aquino III will abandon the divisive RH bill and more to nation building instead.
“Let’s focus all our resources in improving social services and fighting corruption,” Bagaforo said.
“Nothing is lost if the RH bill is forgotten and everyone stands to gain if we unite and remain pro-life,” he concluded.
Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog described the voting as a “close call” and a “good wake up call for the Church to really preach the Gospel in season and out of season.”
In Samar, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez also said his diocese would continue to educate the people about the “ill-effects” of the RH bill. (RL and Melo Acuna/CBCPNews)