LUCENA CITY, Philippines—About 8,000 protesters marched on Friday morning to assail House Bill No. 4244 or the Reproductive Health Bill, causing a traffic jam in major streets here.
The protesters were composed mostly of students from the Lucena Diocesan Catholic Schools Association who prayed the rosary and sang religious songs during the march that culminated in a Mass at the Quezon Convention Center.
“Someday, I will also have my own family. I’m also going to observe family planning but not in the way the bill wants every citizen to do. I will be guided by my religious belief,” said a senior high school student from Maryhill College.
The students, who were in their school uniforms, waved placards with anti-abortion sentiments and respect for life messages while appealing to the government to scrap the bill principally authored by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman.
In San Pablo City, Laguna, around 2,000 students, teachers, professionals, priests, nuns, seminarians, members of the Catholic laity and civic groups gathered at an interfaith march and prayer rally against the RH Bill held at the Doña Leonila Park near the San Pablo city hall.
Aside from the Catholic Church, the other faiths represented were from the Church of Christ, United Evangelical Church, Jesus Christ Our Victory Church, United Pastors Council and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Prolife advocate Dr. Noel Malamug of the Sta. Rosa Hospital and Medical Center urged the audience to make a choice between “light and darkness” to ensure the defeat of the bill in Congress.
He said RH Bill promotes universal access to contraceptive materials, many of which, he said, are abortifacient.
“To abort a child even from the start of conception is premeditated murder,” he stressed.
Bishop Leo M. Drona of the Diocese of San Pablo echoed exhortations from Pope Benedict XVI to ensure the controversial bill would not become a law.
Use of modern family planning methods is encouraged in the bill, also known as the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011.
In Maasin City, at least 6,000 people on Friday braved the tsunami warning and heavy rains to join the prayer-rally against the passage of the RH bill.
“This is not a protest but a rally to choose between life and development or death and tragedy,” said Bishop Precioso Cantillas of the Maasin Diocese in his Homily to kick off the prayer rally.
“Let us be sure what to choose because we are at a crossroad as a nation,” he added.—With a report from Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas