Debate over RH Bill gets physical

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2011 12:48 PM | Updated as of May 25 2011 09:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - While their leaders were having heated discussions on the floor regarding the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, supporters had their own on the sidelines.

Filipino Freethinkers RH advocacy director Kenneth Keng alleged he was threatened and assaulted by Rizalito David, former senatorial candidate Ang Kapatiran Party and resource person of the Pro Life Philippines.

A brief exchange between the 2 happened while Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia was discussing the funding received by RH advocates from the likes of the United States. Commenting on a similar accusation from David, Keng said the Catholic Church as well as anti-RH advocates are also receiving funds from foreigners. Both were at the House of Representatives watching the debates.

David supposedly got angry. He allegedly moved towards Keng, who had then pointed his camera phone to record the threats.

People were able to restrain David, who later allegedly hit Keng’s camera phone. The gadget went flying into Keng’s glasses.

He and Filipino Freethinkers President Red Tani followed David outside to ask for his identity. There, they saw David approach other anti-RH advocates.

They then waited until the end of the hearing to reach David. They finally saw him supposedly being escorted by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Father Melvin Castro “discreetly walking near the edge of the lobby toward the exit.”

Both supposedly ignored the RH advocates.

In a statement, Filipino Freethinkers said “this all happened inside the chamber of Congress while a legislative process was going on makes his actions even more unacceptable, especially considering the fact that David once aspired to become a legislator.”

The group plans to file a lawsuit against David. They also want the House of Representatives to ban David.

“We also condemn how Rizalito David — and to a lesser extent, Melvin Castro — hid his identity from us after several polite attempts at civil dialogue. Hiding himself and even his identity after doing what he did only shows that he himself is ashamed of what he did, and knew that he was at fault,” the group said.