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(SPOT.ph) In her co-authorship speech yesterday, August 1, opening the Senate plenary debates on the Reproductive Health Bill, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago appealed to the Church to focus on more pertinent issues like poverty and corruption, instead of involving themselves with the controversial legislation, reports GMA News.
According to the senator, the Catholic Church is the only major religion in the country against the RH Bill and that the Philippines is one of six out of 48 largely Catholic countries that still does not have an RH law. Defensor-Santiago argued that the bill would help alleviate injustice. "The first step in abolishing injustice is to recognize how much the Church itself is tied to the unjust system that oppresses the very poor. RH is available to the rich, why should it not be made available to the very poor?" she said. In an ABS-CBN report, Defensor-Santiago suggested for the Church to stop meddling in matters of reproductive health and to just allow parents to listen to their conscience.
While the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) agreed that conscience is important, the CBCP noted that her statements were lacking. “Tama ang sinabi ng senadora na ang konsensya ang dapat sundin. Pero hindi niya alam na obligasyon ng simbahan na turuan ang tao na magkaroon ng tamang konsensya (The senator is right in saying that the conscience should be followed. But she does not know that it is the Church's obligation to teach people proper conscience),” said CBCP Public Affairs Director Fr. Deogracias Yniguez. Sen. President Juan Ponce Enrile echoed this sentiment: For him, proper conscience is to use family planning methods approved by the Church.
Supporting Defensor-Santiago as she delivered her speech was actress Heart Evangelista, who attended the plenary. Evangelista was maid-of-honor at the senator’s 50th wedding anniversary.
GMA News' coverage on the Senate plenary