MANILA, May 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - World boxing icon and Philippines congressman Manny Pacquiao has come out in support of the Catholic bishops’ fight against the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion and the first boxer in history to win 10 world titles, spoke in the House today during the interpellations on the RH Bill, saying that corruption is a bigger problem than overpopulation and that lawmakers should concentrate on creating laws that will fight poverty instead of promoting the use of contraceptives.
“It’s not the RH bill that is the answer to poverty. The answer to poverty is to end corruption because that is the real destroyer of people and the cause of poverty of the people,” he said.
Pacquiao remarked that his opposition the RH bill was based on his own personal background and, more importantly, on his religious beliefs.
“I cannot be in favor of the RH bill because I am a prayerful person. I have the fear of God in me. My boss is the Lord. I do not want to disobey the commandment of the Lord,” said Pacquiao.
At a press conference Tuesday following a lunch meeting with members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Council, Pacquiao said he never would have been born had his poor, unemployed parents turned to modern birth control, and called on his fans to back the Church and “follow God’s command, not man’s.”
Pacquiao said he will continue informing the public, especially the youth, why he is against the measure and explain to them the defects of the bill.
CBCP President Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar praised Pacquiao’s endorsement of the culture of life, observing that “people listen to him.”
However, the Filipino boxing champ rejected calls for civil disobedience by pro-life groups if the RH bill should be passed, saying such a move would result in more problems, and the government would end up in an “unfortunate position” if people decide not to pay taxes.
“If we do not pay taxes, the government will be in a particularly unfortunate position. We should pay our taxes,” Pacquiao said.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines clarified in a press release today that the CBCP has no position yet on civil disobedience in case the RH bill is approved.
Bishop Odchimar said calls by some prelates for civil disobedience are not yet a collective position of the bishops’ collegial body.
“The CBCP does not have any official stand regarding civil disobedience. We did not discuss what action to take on civil disobedience,” Odchimar said.
However, some Catholic prelates have stated that they would rather go to jail on charges of sedition than give up their campaign to promote life.
In reaction to President Aquino’s threats that pro-life groups who encourage civil disobedience through non-payment of taxes may face sedition or rebellion charges, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles told CBCPNews, “He can put us all in jail. We are willing to pay the price to save the unborn from modern Herods and save the executioners from the grasp of the evil one.”
Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo said, “Amen! We obey God rather than man,” while Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said, “Let him (President Aquino) charge all of us bishops, priests, religious, all the faithful with sedition because it is better to obey God rather than men and immoral laws.”
Former CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, however, called for patience, urging the Catholic faithful to wait and see, and emphasizing the need for both sides to be calm and reasonable, and to carefully consider the moral implications of the issue.
“In the end, we must obey God and not man,” Archbishop Lagdameo said.