Senator Joker Arroyo is at a loss why the Aquino administration and the Catholic hierarchy continue to quarrel over the reproductive health bill when the government and the Church leadership struck a compromise over two controversial issues in the past.
The first one was in 1938 when then President Manuel L. Quezon vetoed a bill, approved by the then unicameral National Assembly, on religious instruction in the country’s public schools.
“A heated debate between Quezon and Church followed. The public joined the debate, zeroing in on the separation of Church and State. The National Assembly did not meet to override the presidential veto,” Arroyo said in a statement.
He said that 18 years later during the Magsaysay presidency in 1956, Senators Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel introduced in the Senate a measure mandating the reading of national hero Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” in all the country’s schools.
“The Catholic Church opposed it and the controversy was heated and nationwide. The Church insisted that some passages in Rizal’s novels were derogatory to the Church and to make it required reading would be unfair,” Arroyo said.
He said a compromise was reached after weeks of heated debate.
“Among others, the unexpurgated version of Noli and Fili, which contain critical essays against the Church would not be required reading in the elementary and secondary schools. The original text will be taught in the college level,” Arroyo said.
He said that in the first two controversies, “it looks like the Church lost in the religious instruction bill in 1938.
“It was a tie on the Noli-Fili controversy,” Arroyo said.
After 56 years
“Now comes the RH bill, the third one after 56 years. It is just as heated and acrimonious as the religious instruction and the Noli-Fili bills. But the period of debates in the RH bill is a lot longer,” Arroyo said.
“It’s some wonder why the RH bill cannot be resolved amicably by the contending parties like the Noli-Fili,” he added. Norman Bordadora