Church leaders to closely monitor Sona on Monday
Church leaders will be closely monitoring President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) today (Monday) “to see if what he says regarding his accomplishments is really happening or not.”
Msgr. Juanito Figura, the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said this was the reason he refused to grade Mr. Aquino’s performance in his first year of office.
Prelates will also be listening to what the President may say about the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
The President is a known supporter of the RH bill which requires the government to guarantee wide access to reproductive health care services, methods, devices and supplies to the people.
The bill also pushes the use of “modern” methods of family planning, including condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices and injectables.
Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, outgoing CBCP president, last week issued a statement ahead of the President’s Sona to renew the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to the measure.
“The bill ignores moral and religious considerations in the name of democracy and freedom of choice in a pluralist society,” he said.
Odchimar called on Catholics to defend Christian values by rejecting the bill.
“Ignoring moral values is moral corruption; and moral corruption breeds corruption in public and private life. Its fruit is social decay and disintegration,” he said.
Mr. Aquino’s Sona coincides with the 43rd year of “Humanae Vitae,” the landmark papal encyclical which proscribed artificial birth control.
Some Catholic priests in Laguna still have reasons to praise Mr. Aquino even if the Church remains his No. 1 critic when it comes to the RH bill.
Fr. Albert San Jose of Pakil town said the President was on the right track because he was prioritizing discipline among Filipinos.
However, he said he was disturbed by the President’s indifference in promoting morality, apparently referring to the latter’s support for the RH bill.
Fr. Jerry Oblepias, the parish priest of Del Remedio Parish in San Pablo, noted that the President’s accomplishments included the silencing of “wang wang” (sirens) which were being abused in the past by both government and private motorists just to avoid being trapped during heavy traffic.
He praised the President for setting the example of not putting his name and pictures on government projects.
But Oblepias also listed down the failures of the President, including the Hacienda Luisita issue where tenants and farm workers have yet to get parcels of land.
“The problem of corruption is not yet rooted out and he failed to bring the people to moral ground and solve poverty,” he added.
Fr. Rudy Carabuena of Calumpang, Liliw, praised Mr. Aquino for the resignation of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and the probe of the alleged over-importation by National Food Authority during the Arroyo administration.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he wanted to hear what the President had to say about gambling in the country.
The prelate said that if Mr. Aquino were “truly vested by integrity” and “truly against corruption,” then banishing gambling from the land won’t be a problem for him.
In a statement, Cruz called on the President to “have mercy” on the Filipinos addicted to gambling, to those who are slowly being taught to rely on luck instead of diligence, and to the poor who are exploited by gambling lords.
“Only fools would deny that gambling breeds corruption. Otherwise, how come the previous management of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. is accused of this and that offense?” he said.
“How come both the previous and present management of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office are undergoing long Senate inquiry in aid of legislation? How come well-known and duly named gambling lords of infamous jueteng remain free and happy?” he added.
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