Cebu Church, pro-life groups watch CongressBy Ador Vincent Mayol, Fe Marie Dumaboc
Cebu Daily News
Be on guard.
Pro-life advocates across the country are preparing for a tough week ahead to ensure the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill doesn’t get passed in the House of Representatives before lawmakers go on a break for the Holy Week.
Around 100 people yesterday rallied at the Plaza Sugbo across Cebu City Hall to counter plans to pass the bill within the week.
“This is our quick response to the red alert in the House of Representatives. There is a move on Monday to March 23, which is the last day of Congress sessions to pass the RH Bill,” said Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, Human Life International director.
Pro-life advocates are set to rally at the Batasan complex tomorrow as proponents of the RH bill try to start votation on whether the bill will be enacted into law.
“We are too confident that the bill won’t be passed. We should not be complacent,” Bullecer told Cebu Daily News.
“All pro-life advocates must be there (House of Representatives). We have to continue praying between now and next week.”
Yesterday’s activity dubbed “Lenten Walk for Life” gathered Cebu city government officials like Mayor Michael Rama, Councilor Edgardo Labella, Rep. Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar of the north district and her father Raul.
“Don’t worry if others failed to attend this activity as long as their principle in opposing the RH bill stays,” said Mayor Rama, who spoke after the Mass.
“It is not the number that counts,” he added.
As the ninth child of of 13 Rama siblings, the mayor said he would not have been born if there was an RH bill during his time.
Rama said parents should be responsible in raising their children.
“My parents have 13 children and all of us finished schooling. All of us have good manners,” he said.
Rally participants wore white T-shirts and carried banners with the statements “Defend Life. No to RH Bill,” “Protect Life,” and “Sugpuon ang RH Bill (Counter the RH Bill).”
They converged at the Plaza Independencia then walked to the Cebu City Hall plaza where a Mass was officiated by Msgr. Esteban Binghay.
Bullecer said they learned by Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu’s 2nd district about attempts of some congressmen to push the passage of the RH bill within the week as a “gift” timed for Women’s Month as well as to President Benigno Aquino III.
“We know that pro-RH advocates have the support of President Aquino as well as the president of the House of Representatives,” Bullecer said.
In his homily, Msgr. Binghay urged the people to fight for Christian values that uphold the sanctity of life.
“There are those who dictate to us what to do even if it is wrong. We should strive hard and stand up for the Lord,” said Binghay, episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
He invoked Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a Visayan youth martyr who is set to be canonized on Oct. 21.
“Pedro shed his blood (for the faith). Can we also do the same? Maybe, we would not shed blood but sweat in fighting for the kingdom of God,” said Binghay.
Representative Del Mar said she was optimistic that lawmakers will say a “big No” when they are asked to vote on whether or not to pass the RH bill.
Out of 283 congressmen, Del Mar said 161 are against the RH bill.
At least 144 votes are needed for the bill will be passed.
“We are hopeful that the rest of congressmen will be enlightened and will go with our advocacy,” she said.
Del Mar said they have been visiting schools and universities to explain to student the ill effects of the RH bill on society.
Her father and former congressman Raul urged pro-life advocates not to lose hope but continue to denounce the RH bill.
Raul, who is a papal awardee, a recognition given during the term of Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, said authors of the of the bill has been working hard so it will be enacted into a law.
Pro-life advocates will occupy the galleries of the House of Representatives to monitor the proceedings.
The Del Mars made their speeches before the Mass started then left.
Philippine bishops continue to lobby against the RH bill, whose provisions include public access to government-funded supplies of condoms and contraceptives.
The RH Bill or the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 is a consolidated bill authored by eighth members of the House of Representatives.
The latest version of the RH bill was filed by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., Akbayan party-list Reps. Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello, and Gabriela party-list Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus.