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Battle against health bill shifts to schools

Bishops officially pull out of dialogue with the government on controversial measure

Battle against health bill shifts to schools
Monsignor Juanito Figura, CBCP secretary general, announcing the bishops' decision to back out from talks reporters, Manila

May 11, 2011

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Catholic schools have joined a campaign against the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill as the country’s bishops officially pulled out of dialogues with the government on the issue yesterday. Schools in the Diocese of Malolos, for instance, are holding forums, seminars and teach-ins, and are distributing posters and reading materials about the alleged harmful provisions of the RH bill. Father Jay Lina said Catholic schools in their diocese are actively campaigning against the measure now pending in Congress. After backing out of talks with the presidential palace, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is focusing its efforts on convincing legislators to vote against the bill. In the central city of Bacolod, the Bishop's palace will host a dialogue between critics of the RH bill and the province's six congressmen. Father Tomas Rito, a member of the Citizens Alliance for the Protection of Human Life, said the dialogue will seek the legislators’ support in scrapping the bill. Father Rito said his group will bring up issues of morality and legality surrounding the bill and its effects on human health. On Tuesday, critics of the bill held a “Jericho march” outside the House of Representatives building in the suburbs of Quezon City. “When congressmen deliberate on the bill, we will make our presence is felt because the pro-RH groups are also expected to be here. We will be vigilant,” said a participant in the march. Edwin Lacierda, President Benigno Aquino's spokesman, said the government cannot force the bishops to talk about the birth control issues with the presidential palace. He said with the bishops out of the talks there is no longer a need for the president to pursue his own version of the measure. PM14167

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