Anti-RH bill group hopes to join opposition to measure in HouseBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A group of anti-reproductive health (RH) bill advocates is seeking accreditation from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in an effort to win seats in the House of Representatives, where the controversial family planning measure is pending.
The group is running under the party-list name Ang ProLife and is composed of members of the laity hoping to join the opposition to the RH bill in Congress, according to Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.
“It’s a laity initiative… they don’t need the approval of priests or bishops for that,” said Castro in an interview with reporters.
Castro said he was hoping the Comelec would give the group the green light to run under the party-list system in the May 2013 elections so the Catholic Church would gain another ally in Congress.
A similar party-list group, the El Shaddai-backed Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay), has won seats in Congress in the past three elections.
The top vote-getter in the 2007 elections, Buhay advocates for the promotion of the value of human life and the family through governance and education.
“We want the prolife movement to have a louder voice in Congress. At present, we have many party-list groups but most of them are pro-RH bill,” said Castro.
Gabriela and Akbayan are among the party-list groups pushing for passage of the RH bill, which the Catholic Church is staunchly opposed to because of its “anti-life” provisions.
Ang ProLife, with lawyer James Imbong listed as its secretary general, filed its petition in the Comelec on March 31.
“In their application for party-list accreditation, they noted that their purpose is mainly to protect the family and life. They don’t only represent the pro-life movement but families as well,” said Castro, adding that the faithful should support groups advocating for the protection of life and family values.
Meanwhile, several Catholic youth groups on Monday assured at least nine lawmakers of their votes should they run in next year’s elections.
“As of now, we would support nine young legislators who are basically the vanguards against the RH bill,” said Peter Pardo of the National Capital Region Youth Ministry at a press briefing at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines office in Intramuros, Manila.
He identified the legislators as Davao Representative Karlo Nograles, Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, Cebu Rep. Rachel del Mar, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, Lanao del Norte Rep. Aliah Dimaporo, Buhay party-list Representatives Michael Velarde and Irwin Tieng and Cebu Rep. Gabriel Quisumbing.
Other youth groups that promised their support for the lawmakers included the Federation of National Youth Organizations, Youth Pinoy!, CFC Youth for Christ and Singles for Christ, and the Columbian Squires and UP for Life.