Tom supporting RH bill, but won’t vote for it

Posted on December 12, 2012

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Cebu City Rep. Tomas Osmeña doesn’t mind getting the ire of critics of the Reproductive Health bill by saying he is in favor of the measure.

But if it’s put to a vote, he said he would abstain for the sake of “family”, referring to his close friendship with former Cebu City congressman Raul del Mar, who is a papal awardee.

Of Cebu’s nine district congressman, Osmeña is the lone voice who has clearly spoke in favor of the RH bill.

“The bill is for the country that’s why it bothers me. I am not going to vote (against or for it) out of my respect of (my) alliance with Raul Del Mar but I hope it passes. I won’t do it. I have to make a choice. Del Mar is like family. If you talk about choosing between nation and family… family first. My alliance with Del Mar is more important than the RH Bill,” Osmeña told Cebu Daily News.

“I am just deferring it (vote). I just don’t want him to feel bad. If that is so important to him, sige na lang,” he said.

Osmeña said that when he and Del Mar discuss the bill, he could see in del Mar’s face that it was an emotional issue.

Del Mar, as a a recipient of the Papal Cross from Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, is a known anti-RH advocate.

Osmeña and Del Mar are pioneers of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) in 1988, a bond that has deepened over the years.

But his decision to abstain in the voting does not stop him from saying the bill is what the country needs.

“We can’t keep up with the population growth. If we give proper education, we have to spend everything we have. Really, we are struggling. We are growing too fast. There are so many hungry people. Many come here in Cebu to look for jobs but they end up being urban poor. We are not doing enough,” Osmeña said.

He said the church should not tell the government what to do.

“Ibelieve in the freedom of religion. No religion should dictate to the government what is right and wrong. Many of (the congressmen and senators) are afraid to lose Catholic votes. In my speaking out, am scared too but my responsibility is to do what is right,” he said.

Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has called on Catholics to pray that the bill won’t prosper in the two legislative houses.

Pro-life groups led by Human Rights International Director Dr. Rene Bullecer staged a rally at the Fuente Osmeña rotunda yesterday to oppose the bill.

“It is fear of the repercussion from the Catholic church and many of them (senators and congressmen) openly admit it. I also have fears but I make it a point not to make a decision based on fear,” Osmena told CDN.

“I’m really in favor for it but for now I will abstain.” /Marian Z. Codilla, Reporter with reporter Ador Mayol

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