In what could be billed as the very first "big demonstration" against this new administration, the Catholic Church yesterday rallied some 40,000 plus people at the Rizal park against the Reproductive Health bill.
Three things about this event:
First, this was something of a strong showing of collective force against the RH bill, countering pro-RH bill propaganda that the bill enjoys strong public support.
Second, this is a political message to the Aquino administration. That figure, 40,000, is best remembered only in EDSAs. There is some subtle message being sent by the Church, and that is, if this administration does not want to be toppled by a popular revolt, it better withdraw its support of the bill.
And third, this is a challenge to those who support the RH bill---mount a bigger rally than what we did.
Question--is the pro-RH bill advocates up to the challenge?
The Catholic Church is determined to pursue this issue up to the very end. The question is---does the administration and those who support the bill feel the same thing?
President Aquino has consistently issued support for the Reproductive Health bill. Publicly, he was quoted as having second thoughts about it. However, there are reports that Malacanang is moving its allies and marshalling them to support the RH bill, in deference to the United States.
Reports also verified the strong lobby of the makers of condoms and contraceptives. This billion dollar industry is moving its muscles and using its lobby money to make this bill a reality.
Really, this issue broke the tenuous relationship of the Church with that of civil society, who largely support the bill. Fact is, this bill seems to have split the ranks of civil society so much so that groups allied with the Church, and once populated the ranks of the political and ideological opposition have broken themselves from the coalition.
Most of the opposition centers on the use of public funds to buy contraceptives and distribute them to the poor. Most of those opposing the bill say the funds have better uses. Most feel that immorality will somewhat rise when the State allows the mandatory teaching of sex education to students as young as ten or twelve years old.
Use of public funds is not an expression of free choice. Rather, it is a subtle way of the State telling the individual to exercise extreme caution.
Free choice means respecting the right of the individual to engage in sexual activity and the liberal use of any method to avoid contraception, be it natural or artificial.
The State does not have the right to dictate upon an individual what method of contraception he should use. It is up to the individual to determine that.
Using public funds to distribute contraceptives is not an expression of free choice. By procuring these condoms, the State already expressed its preference towards artificial contraception, something which violates the religious beliefs of majority of Filipinos.