It’s June now going July, yet still the Reproductive Health Bill is as always, questionable if it will be pass. How may months now since this was first deliberated? Six months? Seven? I don’t know now! All I know is that, this is getting us to nowhere! And some what this issue is slowly fading away!
As I think of something to write about, out of nowhere Rizal pops out of my brain. Yep! Jose Rizal, the Philippines National Hero. And if we talked about Rizal we will never forget to talked about the once controversial Rizal Law.
So I started my research on this one, and as I chew all the given information in front of me, I stumbled upon the biggest similarity of Rizal Bill and the now controversial RH Bill. Both is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church!
Almost 60 years ago, the Catholic Church opposed this law because the Church claims it would violate freedom of conscience and religion. Upon their opposition of the said bill then, the Catholic leaders urges their members to write to their congressmen and senators their opposition to the bill. And later, they organized a symposium where in a clergy named Jesus Cavanna said that the novels Rizal published belonged to the past and that teaching them would misinterpret current situation, which I doubt so is in no different from before, in terms of the Church control to their members and meddling to the affairs of the State.
It was also said that the Catholics had the right to refuse to read them as it would endanger their salvation.
Just like the RH Bill, Rizal Bill also had its own opposition groups such as Catholic Action of the Philippines, Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Teachers Guild. But, also just like the RH Bill, it also had its supporting groups such as the Knights of Rizal, the Freemasons and the Veteranos De La Revolucion.
But why does this Church hated this bill? Because of the two novels written by Jose Rizal. The Noli Me Tangere and El Filibustirismo, both anti-clerical themed novels.
The purpose of Rizal Bill was to mandate all educational institutions in the Philippines to offer courses about the national hero’s life, works and writings, particularly the novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibustirismo. Mainly proposed and supported by the then Senator late Claro M. Recto, who is charged by the Catholic Church as a communist and anti-catholic after proposing Rizal Bill.
The Church, which is threatened by this bill protested, issuing a Pastoral Letter by then Manila Archbishop Rufino Santos that Catholic students would be affected if compulsory reading of the unexpurgated version were pushed through. According to Mariano Jesus Cuenco, “(It) attacked dogmas, beliefs and practices of the Church. The Assertion that Rizal limited himself to castigating undeserving priests and refrained from criticizing, ridiculing or putting in doubt dogmas of the Catholic Church is absolutely gratuitous and misleading.“. Even cited Rizal’s stances in denial of the existence of the purgatory, and that Moses and Jesus Christ did not mention its existence.
Outside the Senate, the schools owned by the Church threatened to close down if the bill was passed, but Recto countered that if that will happened, the schools would be nationalized. And Recto take the threat as a bluff, because he knew that the schools were too profitable to be closed. So in the end, the bill was enacted as a law on June 12, 1956. But in 1994, 38 years after the passing of the bill. The then President Fidel V. Ramos, a Methodist (1st non-Catholic President of the State), ordered DECS full implementation of the law after receiving reports that it has still not been fully implemented.
Now, I go back to RH Bill. The Philippine society as a whole should accept the fact that we really need the RH Bill. Not because we need to manage the population growth or to give free condoms and contraceptives, but to give “rights of individuals and couples to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the numbers, spacing and timing of their children; to make decisions considering reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health“, as what the Reproductive Rights defined by House Bill 101, 513, 1160, 3387 and Senate Bill 2378.
But we also need to face the fact that present bill needs more cleaning and perfecting to make this bill more credible. But as a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, we should trust our Constitution to protect us if this bill will really go against any part of our supreme law of the land. And this can be done by the Judicial power to review, including its power to nullify or interpret laws as stated in Article VII, Section 1 of our Constitution. And if the Judiciary proclaimed this bill as Constitutional, the Legislative body still needs to enact it as a Law, subject to the veto power of the President of the State which may be overturned by a two-thirds vote of congress as stated in Article VI, Section 27(1). And if sometime, after the RH become a law, and rather than become a solution to the current population condition of the state, just becomes more worst, the Legislation body can amend a part or the whole law to address some issues raise, or they can repeal the whole RH Law if they want to or if ordered by the President.
So to my fellow Filipinos, let us all be first reasonable and not judgmental. Let us all be open-minded yet also critical. Let us read and examine the Bill at hand. Have faith on our existing Constitution that will protect us. And let us be like Jose Rizal by not letting the Church over run the State but let the people be the center of the State. And as a part of my parting words, remember that the “Filipino family (is) the foundation of the Nation” as stated in Article XV, Section 1 of our Constitution. But how can the foundation of the state be strong if the family that it protects is poor, unhealthy and unmanaged?
Think about it…
What do you think Jose Rizal will do?
- Pia Cayetano prods fellow senators to pass RH bill (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Passing RH bill is our priority, PH tells UN rights body (rightonthemark.wordpress.com)
- CBCP to voters: don’t vote for pro-RH Bill politicians (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Anti-RH bill group hopes to join opposition to measure in House (newsinfo.inquirer.net)