On RH bill: Purple Ribbon says the “ayes” have it

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/20 May) — If voting on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill were done now, it will muster at least 123 votes in the 285-member House of Representatives, Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of the Gabriela party-list, said.

As of their latest count, 123 have already registered their support for House Bill 4244 or the Reproductive Health Bill, 105 are opposed and 57 undecided, she said.

Ilagan said the debate between the dominant Roman Catholic Church and the government is no longer on the substance of the proposed legislative measure but is already a power play, with the Church stamping its political clout.

“Unfortunately, the debates now are counter-productive, it is already a lose-lose situation, especially for the Roman Catholic Church,” said Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of the Gabriela party list.

She said that in the end, the people are at the losing end. “If the Bill is passed, people would say that the Church lost and it may create further divisiveness. If the Bill is not passed, people would say that Government has been remiss in its Constitutional mandate and the Aquino administration is weak,” Ilagan said.

Tomas Osias, Executive Director of the Philippine Population Commission, said the Roman Catholic Church should have recognized that the government in pushing for the Reproductive Health law is just fulfilling a Constitutional mandate.

“It is clear that the Constitution mandates government to promote responsible parenthood and protect the rights of the citizens to reproductive health,” he said,

He added that nowhere in the proposed legislative measure arbitrarily requires people to commit immorality, abortion and the like. “It just provides the menu, a set of choices for Filipinos, especially couples on family planning and reproductive health issues,” Osias said.

Ilagan said the RH Bill is a challenge to the political will of the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. “PNoy should assert the separation of Church and State and ensure that the equal protection clause of the Constitution is upheld as not all Filipinos are Roman Catholics, and that those who do not belong to that faith should be not deprived of government services,” Ilagan said.

She said that basically all the arguments on morality, poverty and other issues have already been addressed. “But it is unfortunate that we have Church hierarchy that stamps its feet as a political statement,” Ilagan said.

Dr. Eden Divinagracia of the Phil. NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare said it is important for people to understand the issue and register their stand on the matter.

Divinagracia led the launching here of the Purple Ribbon for RH campaign Friday, attended by about 500 supporters.

“The challenge now is to make the purple ribbon like the yellow ribbon,” Divinagracia said.

As of their latest count, of the 285-member lower house, 123 have already registered their support to HB 4244, 105 are opposed and 57 undecided.

For Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental-based legislators three have registered their opposition to the bill, namely 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Misamis Oriental 2nd district Rep. Peter Unabia and Ating Koop party list Isidro Q. Lico.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Benjo Benaldo, Misamis Oriental 1st district Rep. Bambi Emano and Abante Mindanao party list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez are listed as neutral.

Akbayan party list Rep. Kaka Bag-ao is in favor of the RH Bill. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)