RH bill can’t be drafted to adhere to one religion, says Pia CayetanoBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The reproductive health (RH) bill can’t be drafted in such a way that it would adhere to the teachings of any religion, according to Sen. Pia Cayetano, one of the measure’s principal authors.
Cayetano said she respects the right of Catholics to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression but that she has an obligation to make sure that laws are applicable to all Filipinos.
“I have to emphasize that even if it’s their right, it is the obligation of a senator to make sure that the policies that come out of our society would be applicable to all Filipinos regardless of religion,” Cayetano said in an interview with dzBB radio on Saturday’s Church-led anti-RH rally.
“I can’t change the RH bill in such a way that it would adhere to Catholic beliefs. I would be violating the law if that were the case,” Cayetano said.
To illustrate her point, she said Quezon City residents cannot say they will not support a national highway project through southern Metro Manila going to the Bicol region just because they are on the northern side of the capital.
“Some things are universal. It can’t be that just because you won’t be using that highway, it can no longer be constructed,” Cayetano said.
The senator’s brother, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, said majority of the senators already agree that there is a need for the RH bill, but its passage would depend on how some provisions that remain objectionable are resolved through the introduction of amendments.
“There are things needed by our people that are found in the bill, from education to medical attention. I do believe that a woman should have available medical options, not abortion, available to her. It’s just a question of what the final form of the bill will be,” he said.
“Its passage really depends on the final form of the bill,” said the reelectionist who is expected to be part of the administration’s senatorial slate.
He said he himself wants a conscientious objection clause included and clarified in the bill.
“For example, in school, if you as a parent wish to have your child exempted from lessons dealing with RH, what program does the school have for your child as an alternative?” Alan Cayetano said.
“And as a doctor, if you are Catholic and are not amenable to performing certain operations or treatments, what can you do?” he added.
Alan Cayetano expressed confidence that President Aquino was “ doing his best in finding a middle ground for the RH bill, making it acceptable not only by language, concepts and principles that will bring people who are at opposite sides of the issue together.”
The Aquino administration has declared a consolidated version of the responsible parenthood and reproductive health a priority measure.
First posted 12:39 am | Sunday, August 5th, 2012