MANILA, Philippines - In what could be its final push to block the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill in Congress, the Catholic Church led a rally yesterday where it reminded the faithful of the measure’s link to birth control and warned them that “contraception is corruption.”
The Catholic clergy delivered their message in a “prayer rally” at the EDSA shrine where more than 10,000 faithful, including some politicians, braved bad weather to show their solidarity with the Church’s stand.
“Corruption is the cancer of the Philippines that prevents us from growing. My dear youth, contraception is corruption. The use of government money, taxpayers’ money, to give out contraceptive pills is corruption,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a message read by former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa.
The rally was organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (CBCP-ECFL).
Villegas said the reason why the Catholic Church is standing up against contraception and abortion is that it cares for the future of the youth of the country.
“This quarrel is not for us, it is for you. I am standing to defend you. We are fighting error because you might be misled. We are battling against corruption because we know it can harm your soul. Believe me, contraception harms your soul,” Villegas said.
He recalled that when President Aquino ran for president, he used the slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (there are no poor where there are no corrupt).”
He added that the promotion of contraceptive pills imparts to the mind of the people that indiscriminate sex is all right and that babies are to blame for the country’s poverty.
He also hit back at Aquino, who mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that to address the problem on the backlog of classrooms, there should be responsible parenthood.
“If more babies are the cause of poverty, are we now saying kung walang anak walang mahirap? It does not rhyme because it is not correct. We can have more classrooms, more food, more jobs if we would be less corrupt. Send out the corrupt official and not the baby,” Villegas said.
“My dear youth, your birth was not a mistake. Your birth was God’s gift to us and to our leaders. You are not the problem, you are our blessing. The problem is the corruption of elders,” he added.
“When contraception fails a birth control generation will give birth to an abortion generation,” he added.
He also said that if the contraceptive pill is considered an essential medicine, it may appear that it is intended to cure the “disease” of pregnancy.
“There is a wisdom that only age and experience can give. We are old but God made us old so we can be reminders for us not to forget our Filipino values, the commandments of God and the rules of good character,” Villegas said.
He also pointed out that the reason why there is no Tagalog word for “contraception” is that it is not only “ungodly” but “un-Filipino” as well. “Fight contraception or we perish as a Godly nation,” he said.
Among the politicians present were Senate President Juan Juan Ponce Enrile, Majority leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Gregorio Honasan.
Honasan said that the anti-RH rally “is part of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We should not politicize the RH bill, the effects of this would be felt for generations from now so we should be prudent and cautious.”
Among the bishops present were Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David, Military Ordinariate Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, San Jose Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari, and Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes.
More than 7,000 rallyists also converged at the Peneranda Park in Legazpi City.
CBCP-ECFL chairman Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes said lawmakers should base their decision on the measure on their conscience and not on the rally turnout. Rally organizers had earlier predicted a “massive” turnout.
He said he does not believe that the rally should be treated as a “make or break” by congressmen in making their decision on Aug. 7.
“It is not the size of the crowd. Our congressmen are also thinking about their vote, on what would be good for the people. They should vote on what is right. During the time of Jesus Christ, there were people who shouted that Christ should be crucified. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the ‘voice of the people’. During the time of Jesus Chirst, the ‘voice of the people’ was for Christ to be crucified, but that was wrong. It is not always the case that the more people who agree on a position are always right,” Reyes said.
He also said that the Catholic Church will not punish lawmakers who will vote for the measure. However, “we would remember who they are.”
“The RH bill, primarily, is against the laws of God. Whatever is against the laws of God, that is not good for the people because it is God who made Man and he knows what is good and bad for us,” he added.
El Shaddai spiritual leader Bro. Mike Velarde, for his part, said the late father of President Aquino, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., had said, “The Filipinos are worth dying for. He did not say ‘The Filipinos are worth killing for.”’
“That is the truth. He offered his life for the Filipinos. Life is precious, now they want to kill life,” said Velarde
The El Shaddai leader also asked the people to pray so that legislators would not make a mistake of voting for the RH bill. “Those for life will live and their political life will succeed.”
“Those who would vote for the RH bill…R.I.P. (Rest In Peace),” he added.
“The proponents of the RH bill said that it is not abortion, that is not true, that is deception. This is preemptive abortion because these medications would stop the formation of life in the womb. That is pre-emptive abortion, premeditative killing,” Velarde added. “If you will kill the people, who would you lead over?”
“We are not mandated to kill life from beginning to end. We are mandated to honor and preserve life from beginning to end,” Velarde added. With Cet Dematera, Eva Visperas