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Aquino ally slams bishops' civil unrest threat

Such an action will only alienate itself from the people, says Philippine former legislator

Aquino ally slams bishops' civil unrest threat
Risa Hontiveros staff, Manila

February 9, 2011

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A Philippine former legislator and staunch supporter of President Benigno Aquino III has criticized Philippine Catholic Church leaders for urging the faithful to indulge in "civil disobedience" if a controversial reproductive health bill passes Congress. "The Catholic Church hierarchy’s renewed threat of civil disobedience against reproductive rights is highly misplaced and mistaken," said Risa Hontiveros, former representative of the Akbayan Party in Congress. The Church's call "is directed at the wrong target," she said, adding that "such an action from the Church hierarchy would only effectively alienate itself from the people it professes to look after." Two Catholic bishops urged the faithful last week to rise up in "civil disobedience" if the birth control bill becomes law. "We will have civil disobedience! Those laws that are immoral, we will tell the people not to obey," said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon. He said the bishops will not be cowed by any penalties under the law. "We bishops are willing to be imprisoned, together with our priests, and protest about the immoral things (in the bill). To be firm with our teachings, let them imprison us!” said Bishop Bastes. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa also said they have no choice but to resort to protest actions, but added civil disobedience must be peaceful. "Let’s make it clear that we are not against any person. We are not against the government. We are not subversives," Bishop Arguelles said. “We are just saying what is right," he added. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines last week released a pastoral letter calling on the people to oppose the reproductive health bill and act against its passage. Hontiveros, however, said it would be "antithetical" for the bishops to call for civil disobedience "to derail the expansion of the people’s rights and welfare." She said the Catholic Church must learn to "genuinely listen" to the voice of its own constituents on the issue. Related reports Archbishop’s letter provides moral guidelines Filipino bishops urge ‘people power’ on RH bill PM13200.1640
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