MANILA, Philippines—Catholic leaders lambasted on Saturday the “secrecy” that shrouded President Aquino’s signing of the reproductive health (RH) bill into law and vowed to “exhaust all legal remedies” to have it repealed.
Dr. Ricardo Boncan, spokesman of the Catholic Vote Philippines alliance, said it was “highly dishonorable” for the President to sign the law on December 21 in secret and away from media spotlight.
“We find the non-publicized signing of the RH bill into law by President Aquino to be highly dishonorable and unprincipled matter because he did it right after stating that he was in no hurry to sign the bill before Christmas,” Boncan said.
“This, to us, has been the hallmark of his presidency, deception and dictatorial,” he added.
Catholic Vote Philippines is the alliance of lay Catholic groups that have vowed to oust pro-RH politicians in the 2013 elections.
“We will exhaust all legal remedies to fight this unjust, unethical and anti-poor and anti-life law,” Boncan said.
Catholic lawyers are preparing to question the constitutionality of the law before the Supreme Court.
“The last recourse would be the Supreme Court,” said Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, a former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
“But we need to know what amendments were introduced and further study the new form of the approved law. (It’s) time to move on. The future will tell where wisdom has been,” he added.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said the Church’s fight against the “culture of death” would continue even as Malacañang called for reconciliation.
“That the RH bill was signed into law in the cover of darkness and secrecy, only the President knows. If such signing did not merit media and public attention, it only goes to show that such law is not meritorious at all,” Castro said.
“The fight against the Culture of Death goes on. We can only lament that this was their gift to the Lord and to the Filipino people during Christmas season,” he added.
Sorsogon bishop Arturo Bastes blasted the President for “planting a moral time-bomb” when he signed the RH bill into law.
“Indeed, P-Noy will be known as the RH president, which is not a title of honor. His conscience will be bothering him day and night because he has planted a moral time bomb in our Catholic country,” said Bastes.
“Our opposition to that immoral law will persist,” he added.
Boncan said the drop in the President’s approval ratings was due to his “lack of vision” and his “wrong priorities.”
“Instead of the RH bill, the FOI (freedom of Information) bill and the anti-dynasty bills should have been given priority,” he said.
“It will definitely affect his (Liberal Party) candidates and Catholic Vote Philippines will not make people forget this come election time,” Boncan added.