Filipino bishops ‘willing to be imprisoned’ to protest anti-life bill
MANILA, Philippines, February 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two Catholic bishops in the Philippines have called for a campaign of “civil disobedience” against the country’s controversial “reproductive health” bill (RH bill) should the measure pass.
“We bishops, are willing to be imprisoned, together with our priests, and protest the immoral things there (RH bill). To be firm with our teachings, let them imprison us!” Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon told Radyo Veritas, according to the bishops’ CBCPNews.
“We will have a civil disobedience! Those laws that are immoral, we will tell the people not to obey.”
“We are just saying what is right! We are going to proclaim whatever it is,” said Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa. The archbishop cautioned that the campaign is not aimed at overthrowing the government, and should be carried out peacefully.
Various incarnations of the bill, which promotes population control through abortifacient contraception and sterilization, have been advanced for over a decade through a persistent, aggressive, and well-funded campaign by Filipino legislators and activists. Pro-lifers, led by the nation’s influential Catholic bishops, have urged the government to promote moral measures such as natural family planning.
President Benigno Aquino’s regime had appeared to back down from the controversial measure in January, pledging to introduce a re-named “Responsible Parenthood” bill that would address the pro-life concerns. Critics say, however, that the RH bill’s substance remains despite the change in name, and this week the country’s bishops threatened to walk away from their negotiations with the government.
On Thursday, the Philippines branch of the world’s largest pro-life organization, Human Life International, announced that as part of a “Month for Life” they are organizing a series of demonstrations and vigils to honor and defend life and family in the pro-life nation.
Dr. Rene Bullecer, HLI’s Philippines Country Director, challenged President Aquino to move beyond “vague statements” about his Catholic faith and toward concrete action. “President Aquino should confirm, with concrete legislative measures, and not only with verbal statements, that the Filipino government intends to pursue family and demographic policies that will fully respect the value of human life,” he said Wednesday in an interview with Vatican Radio.
“The Aquino government has already received more than 900 million dollars from agencies like USAID, UNFPA and others that press rigid population control policies, and that makes it difficult for him to move backwards,” said Dr. Bullecer. “For this reason, in the Month for Life we will underline the urgency to protect human life in society, and fight for national policies in favor of the family.”
The activities planned for this “Month for Life” include prayer vigils, large demonstrations, candlelight processions, conferences, and public debates in the nation’s capital of Manila and other cities.