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Aquino seeks common ground on bill

Catholics in day of prayer to mark Congress's first day back in session

Aquino seeks common ground on bill
Catholics join protest action against the reproductive health bill reporters, Baguio City

May 9, 2011

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A spokesman for President Benigno Aquino says he hopes to find "common ground" with the Catholic Church on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill. "There is a constant dialogue” said the spokesman, Sonny Coloma, adding that with the dialogue "there might be common ground." He said the debate on the RH bill focuses only on pregnancy and child rights, "but what is equally important is how future parents become responsible parents." Meanwhile, Church leaders declared today a "National Day of Prayer," aimed at pressing legislators to reject the bill.  Auxiliary Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato said Catholics should show their unity "as one nation, one voice in prayer" against the proposed measure. The day of prayer is timed to coincide with the first day back in session for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte said the House of Representatives will not be including the bill among its priority measures, but Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada said discussions cannot be prevented if lawmakers insist on it. Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile said he will vote against the bill if it is tabled before the session adjourns next month. "It is a matter of faith for me," he said. He also voiced a concern that the Philippine government may rush the passage of the bill, in order to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. If passed, the bill would mandate the government to make artificial contraceptives accessible. PM14142

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