MANILA, Philippines -- The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is urging lawmakers in the House of Representatives not to be afraid in battling the reproductive health (RH) bill.
In a statement, CBCP President Archbishop Jose Palma said the lawmakers should continue fighting for what is right and moral amid pressure from RH bill advocates.
"Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words of our Lord first said to Abraham, 'Do not be afraid!" Palma said.
In a report from the CBCP News, the CBCP head, as well as CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life Executive Secretary Fr. Melvin Castro, also appealed to lawmakers to stand by the truth and not by their political parties as they put the controversial measure to a vote on Wednesday.
Palma said, "These involve such things as the right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children."
He added, "Here, as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law rather than the result of legislation."
Castro, likewise, said, "We appeal to our legislators to rise above their party politics and resist the pressure of Malacañang. In the end, you shall be held accountable to God and to His people."
Bishops to show up during RH bill voting
Several bishops are expected to go to the House of Representatives during the scheduled voting on the RH bill.
Proponents of the RH bill earlier said Catholic bishops are welcome inside the plenary hall but they should behave during the voting.
According to Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, their presence in Congress is only meant to show support for the "pro-life solons" and not to intimidate the others.
Zambales Rep. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay, a vocal critic of the controversial measure, said the presence of the bishops will be a boost to anti-RH bill lawmakers, especially now that they're worried of not getting their pork barrel allocations.
"Our problem here is that we are up against a very powerful bloc… the party that provides funding for most of politicians in the country," Magsaysay said.
"If the CBCP comes in full force, we are more motivated because we see that the Church is behind us as it will give us the necessary boost to vote with conviction," she added.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila said an overnight prayer vigil will be held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati City until Wednesday with masses at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 12 noon, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead the 12 noon mass at the Shrine.