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MAASIN CITY, Philippines, Thursday March 17, 2011 ( – In the midst of torrential rain and a warning of a potential tsunami from last Friday’s earthquake in Japan, over 7,000 faithful from various parishes in the Diocese of Maasin gathered on March 12 to proclaim their opposition to the government’s so-called reproductive health (RH) bill.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has vehemently opposed the various versions of the reproductive health bill for the last decade, which seek to fund the widespread disbursement of contraceptives as part of an effort to reduce the country’s poverty through population control, and introduce sex education in public schools.

Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas, SDB led the rally, dubbed Prayer for Life and the Family, and urged the people to make a choice for life, for family and for God.

“We thank God, for despite the seemingly not so favorable weather and the threat of the tsunami, we are here to pray to God that indeed, with the help of our Patroness, Our Lady of the Assumption, the proponents of the RH Bill will understand the truth that God’s will is the law of this world, and to follow His will gives us life,” said Cantillas.

“As optimistic as I am, I welcome the challenge of the RH Bill. This is a chance for me to make my faith in God clear to everyone,” he said.

The presence of local government officials who are against the reproductive health bill was encouraging for rally participants.

Saint Bernard Mayor Rico Rentuza said the RH bill is not the solution to the problems that the proponents are raising. He told those gathered that the government should instead address the root causes of poverty and provide medical services to indigents to stop maternal deaths.

“There is a need for a continuing education of parents, especially the young couple, and to strengthen the family as the best environment in which to mold responsible citizens and God-loving individuals,” he stated.

The highlight of the rally was an announcement by Diocesan Chancellor Msgr. Marnito Bansig, who read a decree creating the Diocesan Pro-Life Center, an undertaking aimed at “helping parents to raise their children to become truly Christians.”

“We are making history here. Each one of us is a part of history here. Especially that we are set to launch the decade of renewed evangelization to mark our preparations for the 500 year-anniversary of the First Mass in Limasawa,” Cantillas told the crowd.

“As we go home let us keep in our hearts the loving gaze of Mary. Such awareness of such love of the Blessed Mother for us is enough consolation after the long day, and after a long trip,” he said at the closing rites held in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.