Philippine President calls civil disobedience over reproductive health bill ‘sedition’
MANILA, Philippines, May 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - President Benigno Aquino told reporters today that groups threatening or calling for a tax boycott or other forms of civil disobedience if the controversial Reproductive Health bill is passed are courting sedition charges.
“I can’t believe anybody would air such a call publicly,” the president said. “That’s a serious offense,” he added, mentioning the specific charge of sedition.
Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Aquino, added, “If they don’t want to pay their taxes, they better talk to [Internal Revenue] Commissioner [Kim] Henares.”
Early this week, leaders of the Catholic Church declared an “all-out war” against the passage of the RH Bill, after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) pulled out of talks with the government.
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said the talks were “doomed to fail” because Aquino has long been a supporter of the bill, UCA News reported.
“We are going to have a total war now against the RH bill … I said it before that the dialogue is useless … I know the president was not really open for a dialogue because of his fixed decision to push the RH bill,” said Archbishop Arguelles.
In mid-April, President Aquino, speaking to students at a university conference, said that he was prepared to risk excommunication over the bill.
“In the end I must listen to my conscience and do what is right,” Aquino said.
The CBCP has repeatedly sought to persuade the government that the legislation, which would authorize condom and birth control pill distribution campaigns, as well as incorporate sex education into school curricula, would seriously compromise the morals of Philippine citizens, especially the youth.
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. of Kalookan said that though the Church is not advocating civil disobedience “for now,” Catholics should not be forced to obey any law that violates their faith.
“Eventually if the measure becomes law, Catholics will not obey it. If the state orders something contrary to your faith, you are obliged not to follow it,” said Bishop Iñiguez, head the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) public affairs commission.
In a pastoral letter released in January the Philippine Bishops noted that President Aquino rallied the country with an election campaign based on elimination of corruption.
“As religious leaders we believe that there is a greater form of corruption, namely, moral corruption which is really the root of all corruption. On the present issue, it would be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implications of the RH bill,” the bishops stated.
“Simply stated the RH Bill does not respect moral sense that is central to Filipino cultures. It is the product of the spirit of this world, a secularist, materialistic spirit ... “
“We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people,” the bishops concluded.