MANILA, Philippines - Former President Fidel V. Ramos, lawmakers, Cabinet officials, members of the academe, and celebrities aired their support for the reproductive health (RH) bill and President Benigno Aquino III during the launch of their Purple Ribbon campaign on Wednesday.
Lea Salonga, who was named ambassador of the RH movement, led the distribution of purple ribbons to symbolize their cause.
Those who attended the launch include ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. President Oscar Lopez, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, former Health Secretaries Jaime Galvez Tan and Alberto Romualdez, National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Joel Rocamora, and former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani.
RH bill advocates said President Aquino has nothing to fear even if he loses the Catholic Church's support amid his pursuit of the passage of the measure.
"Suportado namin siya," Ramos said.
Salonga, meanwhile, said Aquino should "stay strong" and "stand firm" in his stand on the issue.
Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral expects the numbers of those openly supporting the RH bill to increase in the coming days.
Anti-RH groups, meanwhile, are undaunted.
One group has warned of civil disobedience, such as non-payment of taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, if the RH bill is passed.
"Para ipakitang some sectors are not happy with the legislation," said lawyer Lyndon Cana, chairman of the Citizens Alliance for the Protection of Human Life.
Pro-RH groups hit back, saying the threat of civil disobedience is uncalled for, and that the issue should be settled through free speech and discussion.
Last Sunday, those for and against the RH bill faced off in a heated debate on ABS-CBN's "Harapan."
In Harapan's SMS poll, anti-RH respondents outnumbered those who are in favor of the bill, 69.58% to 30.42%.
In the separate online poll held on the Harapan microsite that livestreamed the debate, 63.91% expressed support for the RH bill while only 36.09% opposed it. - Report from Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News; ANC