Who said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”
Not the Catholic bishops, who gathered anti-reproductive health (RH) bill lawmakers to a simple luncheon on Monday as a token of their appreciation for the latter’s standing by the Church from start to finish of the law process.
The bishops were quick to explain, however, that the move was not a political endorsement of the members of Congress who may be running in May, coming as it did during the election period.
“We tendered this luncheon as an appreciation of what they had done,” said Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma after the lunch, which was held on the last day of the bishops’ plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
Palma said the lawmakers’ move to support and fight for the position of the Church on the RH measure—which has been passed and was signed into law last month by President Aquino—and promote the sanctity of life and Filipino Christian values deserved recognition.
“This is not something that we have to take for granted [because] it [was] done for their great love for the country and what the values mean to them… the values of marriage, life and respect,” Palma told reporters in an interview.
Among the lawmakers in attendance were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Gregorio Honasan, and Representatives Imelda Marcos, Pablo Garcia, Arturo Yap, Amado Bagatsing, Lani Mercado and Milagros Magsaysay.
Palma said through that the bishops’ gratitude would not translate into endorsements for the May 13 balloting.
“We are not in anyway partisan. We do not tell the whole world who to vote for or name the right person to vote for,” said Palma.
As in previous elections, the CBCP would merely provide guidelines to the electorate based on the doctrines of the Church, said the prelate. “We trust in the discerning process of the people to choose for themselves,” he added.