YESTERDAY’S celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary served as yet another occasion by the Cebu Archdiocese to remind the province’s lawmakers to respect human life and reject the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
In his homily, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said he hopes the country’s congressman will heed the voice of the Church as they vote on the controversial RH bill on second reading this week.
Palma reminded the Cebuano faithful attending Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral that the date for the votation, Dec. 12, coincides with the feast of the Our Lady of Guadalupe-the patroness of Cebu and the unborn.
“We trust in God. (May) our legislators will be enlightened. Don’t be afraid. Let’s do the good we can: our prayers and sacrifices. In our journey through life, there are many challenges. But let’s believe that the son of Mary will crush the serpent,” Palma said.
The 62-year-old prelate, also the incumbent president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urged the people to offer special prayers as the Lower House takes on the RH bill this Wednesday.
“We know among the appearances of Mary that in Guadalupe, she appeared with a child. She appeared as a mother,” he said.
The significance of Dec. 12 was also echoed by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City’s 2nd district.
He said anti-RH groups are burning the lines to help ensure that the measure does not get past the second reading during the crucial vote set this Wednesday.
Though confident of his group’s numbers, Rodriguez said yesterday that getting the support of some 30 “undecided” congressmen remained significant effort in the campaign against the RH bill.
“There are still around 30 congressmen who have not made up their mind so we hope to convince them (to vote against the bill),” he told the Inquirer by phone.
Rodriguez earlier insisted that at least 136 House members had already committed to vote against the measure.
But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of House Bill No. 4244, belittled the claim, saying “neither braggadocio nor dilatory antics win votes.”
“The purported winning count against the RH bill boasted by an anti-RH legislator is baseless extrapolation akin to imagined hazards of voluntary contraception,” he said in a statement.
Lagman’s optimism was apparently fuelled by the defeat of key changes introduced by the anti-RH bloc on HB 4244 during the last three days of individual amendments.
“The voting pattern rejecting all ‘killer’ amendments to the RH bill introduced by critics is irreversible as succeeding nominal voting registered wider margins of victory for the RH advocates confirming the results of the viva voce voting,” he said.
Rodriguez said anti-abortion groups were set to attend a noon Mass at the St. Peter’s Parish church on Commonwealth Avenue, before marching to the Batasan complex in time for the House session on Wednesday. He said supporters and opponents of the RH bill in the House had agreed to put the measure to a vote on second reading on Dec. 12. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol with an Inquirer report