DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 May) — Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Catholic priests and bishops not to become too personal in arguing with President Aquino on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.
In his television program Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa (From the masses, to the masses) on Sunday, Duterte said he hopes that “guys in the opposite side of the bill” would respect the stand of other people.
“For me, it is their stand, that is my stand, and it is the stand of the President,” he said, adding, “It’s just a matter of where you are in this world.”
The vice mayor’s call came a week after Malacañang urged the Catholic bishops to stop turning the debate on the RH bill into a personal battle with the President.
The bill, which is opposed by the Catholic Church for promoting artificial family planning methods, has spawned a debate between the Aquino administration and the prelates.
“It’s better to raise the level of our public debates and not make it personal,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
At one point reports said some Catholic leaders threatened to stage a campaign for civil disobedience in particular non-payment of taxes if Congress insists on passing the bill which they claim promotes abortion and supposedly abortifacient birth control methods.
Aquino retorted by saying that the call was tantamount to sedition.
The bishops said the call for civil disobedience was not an official position of the Church.
In this country, according to Duterte, there are people who believe in God and there are those who do not believe in God.
“For those Catholic faithful, If you listen to the warnings of the priest, follow it but respect the others because the law is also intended for them,” he said.
Last year, Duterte expressed full support to Aquino’s endorsement of the bill saying, “it is about time that the state took a stance on population control.”
“Since 1988 when I became a mayor, I saw the problem of fast growing population eye ball to eye ball,” he said.
The Davao City council passed a reproductive health ordinance last year that allows the women to decide on the size of their families.
The ordinance promotes the welfare and health rights of women as provides support during pregnancy.
Mayor Sara Duterte has also backed the passage of the RH bill.
“I have long advocated for responsible parenthood through informed family planning be it natural or artificial,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Duterte said the Congress is blowing “hot and cold” over the bill.
“It looks like they want it but they don’t want it,” he said, noting at the same time that surveys showed that Filipinos are in favor of family planning. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)