CEBU CITY - The new president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is a fierce opponent of the Reproductive Health Bill, and is expected to lead the Church's fight against the controversial measure.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has organized many rallies to oppose the passage of the RH Bill, according to Dr. Rene Bullecer of Human Life International. He said Palma's election is expected to boost the CBCP's campaign to stop the bill from being passed into law.
Fr. Prescilo Salomon, parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer, said Palma could also help explain to the public that Catholic bishops did not sin when they asked then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for service vehicles. He noted that the bishops had good intentions when they asked for the vehicles.
He also said he expects Palma to clarify the separation of Church and State.
Palma's election came after 7 Catholic bishops were accused of accepting luxury vehicles and large donations in exchange for supporting Arroyo during her term.
The cars and donations, allegedly financed using state lottery funds, helped bolster Arroyo's position during her impeachment crisis over alleged corruption and vote fraud.
Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, the church media officer, said it was still difficult to say if the 7 bishops were guilty or innocent, adding that the bishops' assembly was still deciding how to handle the matter.
The Philippine Senate is investigating the allegations and has threatened to summon the bishops to a hearing.
Previously, the head of the bishops' conference, Nereo Odchimar, sent a letter to the Senate, saying the church officials believed there was no violation of the law.
The church leaders' organization also said in a separate statement that three of the bishops received lottery cash for "social projects" and had used some of the funds to purchase vehicles for those projects.
The statement said bishops had chosen more humble vehicles, such as used pick-up trucks, rather than the luxury Pajeros. With a report from Agence France-Presse