Bishop Jose Manguiran of Dipolog diocese leading an anti-RH bill protest last month (Photo: HLI)
The next head of the bishops' conference said yesterday the Church's stand against the controversial reproductive health bill (RH) is "non-negotiable," as recent reports that the UN is halting funding for the country’s birth control program were denied. "We would like people to know that there are non-negotiable doctrines in the Catholic Church," Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu
told a gathering of Marian devotees. He was speaking during a "Walk for Mary" procession in Cebu City to mark the Virgin Mary's birthday, which falls on September 8. His comments came as a leading proponent of the reproductive health (RH) bill
denied reports that the UN will stop supporting the country's birth control program. Janette L. Garin
, vice-chairman of the House of Representatives’ health committee, said the reports were not true and that funding for family planning and reproductive health is intended to help the country meet millennium development targets in reducing maternal mortality and improving maternal and child health, not to control population growth. The government also denied the reports. Church officials last week welcomed reports that quoted Garin as saying the UN had decided to stop the funding. Archbishop Palma, meanwhile, called on the faithful to continue opposing the bill. "We can make Mother Mary happy if we are pro-life, if we follow the values of the Lord and do not succumb to the values of the world," the prelate said yesterday. He explained that protest rallies against the proposed bill are not organized to pick a fight with those supporting the RH bill. "The nature of the rallies is [to promote] greater awareness and advocacy, tell the truth," Archbishop Palma said. Congress is set to resume deliberation of the bill this week.