Bishops may oppose the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) but they should not incite hatred against leaders pushing for the measure, an advocate said.
Senatorial aspirant and former Akbayan Party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros particularly hit an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for comparing President Benigno Aquino III to the gunman in a recent U.S. school massacre.
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"As a Catholic, I understand the opposition of the Catholic hierarchy to the RH bill. But comparing President Aquino to the Newtown murderer is already excessively irrational and unfair, a total abandonment of reason," Hontiveros said.
"With due respect to the Archbishop, he should apologize to President Aquino, who has always maintained civility despite the poisonous rhetoric that surrounded the RH bill," she added.
Hontiveros was referring to Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles who reportedly compared Aquino to the 20-year-old Newtown massacre suspect.
"Our President intends to kill 20 million children with a fountain pen... to sign the RH bill into law," Arguelles was quoted in the Philippine Star as saying.
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The comment came days after Aquino certified the RH bill pending in both houses of Congress as urgent.
"The comparison is meant to incite hatred against a President who is not only expressing his conscience, but who, more importantly, is fulfilling the ultimate duty of a leader--to put first the interest of the people, not of the few," Hontiveros said.
She further hailed Aquino as a "pro-life President" for supporting the RH bill, which is seen to widen the government's family planning program and other projects on women's health.
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The proposed RH measure has again moved closer to approval Monday, hurdling second reading in the Senate and third and final reading in the House of Representatives.
Hontiveros meanwhile urged the CBCP to "accept its defeat graciously."
"We know why the Catholic hierarchy must insist on having the bill junked, but the enactment of the bill is now inevitable," she said.