CBCP: Arroyo welcome to join anti-RH rallyBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — They may have clashed on some issues before but the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is opening its doors to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at a Mass prayer rally it will lead against the reproductive health bill on Saturday.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said Arroyo, expected to cast her vote against the reproductive health bill in Congress, could join the Church hierarchy in rallying against the bill if she decided to show up.
“All anti-RH people are welcome to join us on Saturday,” Castro told reporters in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Regardless of the political party or affiliation, every single vote versus the RH bill is welcome for us,” he stressed.
Although they have not heard from Arroyo, Castro said the Church would have no problem having her in the rally, which has been scheduled three days before the House of Representatives’ plenary vote on the bill, meant to give poor couples a choice on what kind of birth control methods to use to plan their family sizes.
Meanwhile, CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma warned Malacañang against withholding the congressional pork barrel allocations of lawmakers who would take the Church’s stand against the controversial family planning measure.
Over Church-run Radio Veritas on Wednesday, Palma said the government could not use as leverage the allocations to sway Congress into passing the RH measure.
“It has no reason to hold lawmakers’ allocations in the countryside development fund because that belongs to them, that belongs to the people,” said Palma, who expressed confidence on Tuesday that the bill would not pass the House of Representatives with 140 congressmen opposing it.
But Palma admitted that these lawmakers could suddenly change their decision if the government would dangle the pork barrel in exchange for their votes to pass the bill.
“It could change their decision but our legislators should not be afraid because we know that the government could not forever withhold what belongs to the people,” said Palma.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles also appealed to legislators to vote according to their conscience.
“Just consider the future of your children and grandchildren … look at what’s happening to many countries in the West, they are becoming weak [so] I appeal to the congressmen [for them] to see the reality,” said Arguelles, vice-chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.
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