MANILA, Dec. 9, 2012—As more concerned citizens called for transparency in legislative proceedings after discrepancies in nominal vote counting at the House of Representatives surfaced early this week, another “discrepancy” – this time committed apparently to put Catholic bishops in a bad light – was discovered, with a university student pointing out the false attribution.
An article titled “Priests text-blast solons” ran by The Manila Standard reported that “Catholic bishops and their allies in Congress succeeded Tuesday in delaying a vote on the reproductive health bill for the second day running, with the prelates mounting a text campaign that warned lawmakers that voting for the measure was tantamount to committing a mortal sin.”
The story went on to quote the text message:
“‘Dear Sir, Greetings of Peace and Goodwill! With utmost hope I send you this message praying that you will protect us from the RH bill and vote against it. Clearly the bill promotes promiscuity enabling access to just about anyone open to extra-marital affairs. This alone is a grave threat to our nation as virtuous Filipinos and an attack against the institution of marriage not to mention its attack against life. Please protect the dignity of the Filipinos and please keep the unborn safe from any possible threat. I pray that you do your best to junk the RH bill. Maraming salamat po!’ the bishops’ text messae [sic] said.”
The text message, CBCP for Life learned, was indeed sent to solons, but not by priests and bishops. And it looks like the names of the real senders which were included in the text message were withheld or deleted as the news report was published.
“They left out the part at the end, ‘concerned citizens, Hadassah Cordero and Adeleine Tajora, students, UP Diliman.’ Bishops na pala kami ngayon?” said 21-year-old Hadassah Cordero, who learned of the wrong attribution via social media.
Cordero related that after a friend suggested on Tuesday the idea of reaching lawmakers with messages of encouragement to do the right thing concerning the reproductive health (RH) bill, she decided to do so via text messaging.
After getting the help of another friend to compose a suitable message, she sent the text-blast.
“In the first batch of congressmen to whom I sent it, I put only my name at the end – ‘concerned citizen, Hadassah Cordero, student, UP Diliman.’ In the next batch I was seated next to Adee (Tajora), and we put ‘concerned citizens, Hadassah Cordero and Adeleine Tajora, students, UP Diliman’,” Cordero explained.
She disclosed that she received three replies, with one expressing a pro-RH position. Another asked what group Cordero was part of, and the third reply revealed a pro-life stand.
The student expressed astonishment as to the media’s attribution of the text-messaging to other people when the messages were sent using only one number – her number.
“Walang ibang nag-text ng message na ‘yun kasi hindi naman namin finorward sa iba maliban sa congressmen (No one else sent that text message because we didn’t forward it to others besides the congressmen),” she said.
Tajora bemoaned the inaccurate reporting being done by the media.
“The media has to report the whole truth — with no addition, omission, or alteration. It is clear that our names were written in the text message, but still they reported that it’s a text brigade from the bishops,” the student pointed out.
Cordero and Tajora, members of UP for Life and seriously concerned about the direction the legislation has been taking, have been going to the lower house on session days with fellow students to follow the developments concerning the RH bill.
Disappointed at pro-RH solons
Cordero expressed disappointment over some of the legislators because of the “miscount” that happened on Tuesday and the way pro-RH solons departed from the venue and left the session hanging.
“They did not even hesitate to do those things despite the number of pro-life supporters who were there,” she lamented.
The student found most of the pro-RH solons’ arguments “really illogical. They accuse us of being irrational, but most, if not all, of the pro-RH congressmen delivered speeches which lack content and were only full of words that appeal to the emotions.”
“Also, their true motives were unmasked when they turned down many of the amendments proposed by the pro-life legislators,” Cordero continued. “If they are really sincere with their concern about life, women, and the poor, as well as respect of others’ beliefs, they wouldn’t have turned down the amendments that, for me, would have really improved the bill.”
Pro-lifers gearing up for December 12
Consideration of amendments on House Bill 4244 continues Monday. The date on which the measure will be put to a vote has been scheduled for December 12, with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte informing pro-life lawmakers of the said date.
The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) chair Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes has issued a letter addressed to all the faithful, enjoining everyone to continue offering prayers and participating in a Eucharistic celebration on Wednesday, the day of the vote, at 12:00 noon, at the St. Peter Parish on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
The Mass will be concelebrated by several bishops, after which a procession to the House of Representatives – also with the prelates – will take place. (CBCP for Life)