MANILLA, Philippines, February 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over 50,000 pro-life Filipinos gathered in opposition to the so-called reproductive health (RH) bill last Sunday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.  Despite claims by advocates of the bill that only the Catholic Church is opposed, thousands of Evangelicals, Baptists, and Muslims joined the Catholic majority to show their pro-life stance.

The controversial bill, called “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act,” seeks to “recognize” and “guarantee” “women’s human rights” and keep laws from infringing on “reproductive health rights.”  The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been the main coordinator of the opposition to the bill, which would provide contraceptives in all government hospitals and sex education in public schools.

The presence of Christian and Muslim pro-lifers at the rally, said Eric Manalang, chairman of Prolife Philippines to the Manila Times, “goes to show that this is not just a Catholic issue because the RH bill is not just a simple law.”  “We just want to make sure that our presence is felt and for the lawmakers to start reflecting their stance on the RH bill,” he said.

Yesterday the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced that they are withdrawing their consultation to the Senate committee charged with redrafting the RH bill.  Their presence, said a CBCP representative, is futile.

Attorney Jo Imbong, CBCP Legal Counsel, said, “The CBCP cannot lend its voice to a measure that undermines fundamental rights and the ideals and aspirations of Filipinos as written in the Constitution.”  Imbong said that while a recent meeting between supporters and opponents of the bill was “very cordial” she had to inform the committee that the CBCP will no longer participate.

“We have to do that because the CBCP pastoral letter strongly rejects RH bill so there’s no more point for us in participating in the Senate committee process,” she said.  She added that the meeting indicated the vast difference between the CBCP perspective and that of bill supporters.

In the recent pastoral letter, the bishops called the bill a “moral corruption” and summoned the public to reject its passage.

Human Life International reported that the repackaged reproductive health is “far worse” than the original.  Experts, HLI said, maintain that both bills have been advanced by Western organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Since the revised bill has been certified as a priority bill by President Aquino, they are railroading the process,” said Dr. Rene Bullecer, Country Director for HLI Philippines. “And this bill is far worse than the original ‘Reproductive Health’ bill. It was renamed to give the Catholic president cover in supporting it, but Filipinos are not fooled.”