Friday, September 18, 2009

Philippine Bishops to Create Pro-Life, Pro-Family Coalition of Lay Groups to Support Politicians - from

By Hilary White

MANILA, September 17, 2009 ( - Only candidates who are pro-life and pro-family will be supported by a coalition of Catholic groups to be formed and organised with the help of the Philippine bishops' conference. Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (ECFL-CBCP) said the Church plans to help create a coalition of groups specifically to oppose attempts to pass an anti-life "reproductive health" bill through the Senate.
"We are going to organize all our family and life groups that will vote as a bloc for only those candidates who are really pro-family and pro-life," said Fr. Castro. "This is to safeguard that only our allies in family and life will be elected."
"Candidates who will sign and give their commitment to our campaign, these are the candidates who will be supported by our commission," said Castro.
The announcement comes in the wake of protests by the bishops and other pro-life groups against a proposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act. House Bill (HB) 5043, proposes to legalise abortifacient birth control and impose explicit and mandatory "reproductive health and sexuality education" beginning in fifth grade.
The idea for the family-and-life voting bloc, said Fr. Castro, "came from the laity, not the hierarchy," and is organized by "religious and laypeople, regardless of religion, who share the concern for family and life issues." The clergy, he said, will act in a supportive role only, with the initiative coming from the laity.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has expressed a fear that the bill is being railroaded through the process without sufficient debate.
A group of alumni of Philippine universities have warned that HB 5043 violates the constitution, Section 12 of which recognizes that human life must be protected from the moment of conception. The group, in a position paper, said the bill is using "wrong means to achieve questionable ends" by promoting abortion through the "back door" of promotion of abortifacient contraception.
Catholic Alumni United for Life said, "The grave stakes involved (the death of a human being) places the burden of proof on those who would provide such contraceptives to prove that these are in fact non-abortifacientà[W]e must err on the side of caution and not place the lives of the unborn at risk. HB 5043, however, explicitly promotes and funds such abortifacients."