A Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official on Saturday appealed to the faithful to pray for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in the wake of reports he may be ousted from his post for opposing the reproductive health (RH) bill.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, urged Catholics to pray for Enrile to keep his job so the RH bill would not pass in the Senate.
He noted that President Aquino would be meeting with the lawmakers on Monday on the RH bill, which the Catholic Church vehemently opposes since it promotes the use of artificial contraception.
“The President once again (is) calling the congressmen and women to a luncheon meeting. He will push for a vote on the RH bill,” Castro said.
“We have also received a report of moves to oust Senator Enrile as Senate President because of (his) opposition to the RH bill,” he added.
“We beg you to pray (to) Our Lord through Our Lady to thwart all their plans. O Mary, save our country from danger. We are yours. Help us in this hour of need,” he said.
Earlier, Enrile said RH bill proponents in the Senate could not force a vote on the measure since some senators were still proposing amendments to the bill.
The Senate President mentioned Sen. Pia Cayetano, in particular, saying she could not force a vote unless the majority of senators sided with her.
But senators close to Enrile downplayed reports of a Senate coup in the making supposedly as a result of Enrile’s perceived moves to block the RH bill.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, himself staunchly anti-RH, said there were RH bill advocates in the Senate, who nonetheless remained supportive of Enrile’s leadership.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan also expressed doubt there would be a Senate coup at this time, saying the senators were too preoccupied with priority bills on the Aquino administration’s legislative agenda.
Both, however, acknowledged they would probably be among the last to know if a coup was indeed in the offing because of their closeness to Enrile.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a member of Liberal Party (LP) headed by President Aquino, denied the existence of a plot to oust Enrile.
“No such thing as far as I’m concerned,” Pangilinan said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Enrile and Honasan are stalwarts of the United Nationalist Alliance that is fielding candidates against the LP-led coalition in 2013.
Sotto ran as an independent in 2010.