MANILA, Philippines - Expect a "red revolution" at the EDSA Shrine on Saturday as the Catholic Church mounts a prayer rally to oppose the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Tomorrow’s Catholic Church-led rally comes 3 days before the House of Representatives finally puts the long-stalled bill to a vote.
“Relying on the power of prayer and the necessity of informed awareness, we will gather together to be informed, enlightened and emboldened once more,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle told Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News.
“I enjoin all parish priests and leaders of communities and lay movements to rally their members and endorse participation in this important gathering aimed at communicating a strong and sincere appeal to the goodwill of our legislators,” he added.
The CBCP website said it expects thousands of people to attend the event, dubbed as “Prayer Power Rally against the RH Bill.”
The event will take place from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. A Holy Mass be offered at 5 p.m. EDSA's northbound lane in Ortigas will also be closed to traffic for the duration of the rally.
Participants were told to wear red, the Church’s symbol of martyrdom. They were also encouraged to bring religious images, rosaries and candles to the event.
The organizers said the event “will include dynamic presentations and music besides rousing speeches that will shed more light on — and show the beauty and vitality of – an authentic culture of life.”
The Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said at least 2,500 Catholic youths will attend tomorrow’s rally.
Catholics and anti-RH bill advocates will also have a simultaneous rally in Cebu, according to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.
Palma, in an urgent circular issued last July 29, called on all the Catholics in the region to join the Cebu Archdiocese’s “Solidarity March and Mass for Life Against the RH Bill."
The program will start at 5:30 p.m. with a prayer march at Fuente Osmeña, followed by a mass at 7 p.m. at the Metropolitan Cebu Cathedral.
“I will be with you in this show of faith,” Palma said.
Palma also lauded the move of several minority bloc congressmen to withdraw support for the bill, which is being supported by the Aquino administration.
“Natutuwa ako sa ginawa nila. This is a sign that they see something in the RH bill which may not be for the good of the people in general,” he said.
“I’m happy for that expression of change of mind, or siguro change of heart,” he added.
This move, however, was dismissed by some RH advocates as a partisan support for Arroyo, who had explicitly declared her objection against the bill.
“A vote for d RH bill is also a vote vs GMA's brand of politics,” said Akbayan Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros- Baraquel, a known RH bill advocate.
The Church has opposed the bill, saying the “draconian” measure of population control is not the solution to the country’s poverty problem.
They added that the bill is also not needed in order to solve maternal deaths, saying measures are already in place to address the problem.
The CBCP also claimed that in a survey it conducted, at least 140 out the lower House’s 215 lawmakers said they will vote against the bill.