Religious deliver ‘State of Soul of Nation’
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and other religious groups on Monday issued their version of the State of the Nation Address in which they called on President Aquino to give top priority to other measures other than the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
Seven leaders of religious and nongovernment organizations delivered the address, which they titled “the State of the Soul of the Nation,” in a parody of the President’s address before Congress a few hours later.
Close to 2,500 people belonging to 40 religious groups attended the event, which organizers said was the first in a series of actions against the RH bill.
“The RH bill is being pushed on top of other important matters,” said former Manila Rep. Benny Abante Jr., who heads the group Biblemode International Inc. “We want to assert our right to be heard. Our Sona is not just about the RH bill, it also enumerates the actions that we want done.”
Problems and solutions
Fr. Melvin Castro of the CBCP said, “This Sona is not intended to preempt the President’s speech. But from the point of view of the faithful, these are the problems we see and the solutions we are offering.”
Among the bills the groups want Mr. Aquino to prioritize is the Freedom of Information Act, noting that this was a campaign promise of the Chief Executive.
“This will help fight corruption and broaden the democratic space for everybody,” Pastor Reyzel Cayanan of the Biblemode Youth said.
Cayanan stressed the need to enact a law that would encourage alternative systems of education and institute real electoral reforms.
“Electoral reforms should prohibit both spouses, parents and offspring, or any two siblings from running in the same election together,” Cayanan said.
The RH bill, according to Dr. Eleanor Borja-Palabyab, was “totally unnecessary, totally unconstitutional and completely oppressive.”
Noting that the proposed measure had already “divided the nation” though it had yet to be passed, she said, “Rather than continue to waste time, money and effort on this bill, Congress should devote its time and energy crafting laws that would eradicate poverty.”
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