At the Black Nazarene Mass on Wednesday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle took a subtle dig at the Reproductive Health (RH) law as he lamented that funds that could be allocated to feed and educate people will be used to "kill" life instead. In his homily during the 6:00 a.m. Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, Tagle said, "Ang pera na dapat sana gamitin para pakainin ang tao, magtayo ng bahay at iskwelahan, nagagamit para sa pampatay." The homily was aired over Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas. He urged devotees of the Black Nazarene, "Mas dumami sana ang sasaksi sa katotohanan na ang buhay ay sagrado, patotohanan natin yan." Tagle's pronouncement echoed the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Pastoral Letter last December, which stated that the poor can better be served with education, health and less corruption, and not contraceptives. The Catholic Church is against the passage of the RH law which promotes both natural and artificial family planning methods. The Church espouses only natural family planning. President Benigno Aquino III quietly signed the bill into law on December 21. In a statement on December 29, 2012, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, "Today, Republic Act No. 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, has been published online in the Official Gazette, after being signed by President Aquino on December 21, 2012." "The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history—a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society," Valte said. The CBCP Pastoral Letter issued on December 16, however, said the youth "are being made to believe that sex before marriage is acceptable provided you know how to avoid pregnancy." "The poor are being promised a better life through the RH Bill. It will not be so. The poor can rise from their misery through more accessible education, better hospitals and lesser government corruption. Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care," the CBCP said. Turn away from "materialistic devotions" During the Black Nazarene Mass on Wednesday, Tagle also urged the devotees to turn away from their "devotion" to material things such as money and mobile phones. He scored some people for valuing material possessions like jewelry and mobile phones above God. "Ang iba na may-kaya ... espesyal na pagkain ang pusa ... pero ang kasambahay bibigyan ng inaamag-amag na," Tagle said. "Kung maaari lang po gawin natin ang araw na ito na talagang araw ng pagdiriwang ng ating pananampalataya sa Diyos. Napakaganda ng tema ng ating kapistahan sa taong ito: Debotong Mahal ng Poong Jesus Nazareno, nananalig, sumasaksi," he said. He added: "Sana sa ating pagdiriwang sa araw na ito ang ating mata ang ating puso ituon kay Jesus Nazareno ang mapagkumbabang pag-ibig ng Diyos na dumamay sa atin at binago ang pagkatao natin mula sa paging rebelde sa Diyos sa pagiging masunuring anak ng Diyos." RH Law's 14-year journey The new law seeks to provide improved public access to natural and artificial family planning options, better maternal care, and youth education.
The Catholic Church has strongly opposed the law, which was first introduced in Congress 14 years ago.
The Senate and the House of Representatives separately ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill last Dec. 19. Under the new law, the government will promote programs that allow couples to have their desired number of children with due consideration to the health of babies and women. Resources will also be made available to parents in accordance with their personal and religious convictions.
It also aims to inform young people between the ages of 10 to 19 years old about reproductive health issues and responsible teenage behavior, among other things.
President Aquino had certified the controversial measure as urgent after it narrowly passed the crucial second reading at the House of Representatives in mid-December.
In a matter of days, both the Senate and the lower house finally voted on the approval of the bill, which Aquino quietly signed into law minus the customary photo opportunity with the bill’s main proponents. - VVP, GMA News