Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CBCP to Santiago: RH bill not the answer in solving poverty

MANILA, August 2, 2011— One need not ask an expert in liberation theology to understand that the reproductive health (RH) bill is not the key in solving poverty in the country, a Catholic Church official said.
Monsignor Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that while liberation theology is good, the “social forces of oppression” must first be determined and be taken in the Philippine context.
These “forces”, he said, could refer to the widespread corruption in the government, unequal distribution of land, widening gap between the rich and the poor, worsening criminality, severe incidents of hunger, and human trafficking.
“I cannot see why I would support the RH bill because the good provisions, for the sake of mothers and children, are already stated in the mandates of government agencies,” Figura said.
“The pro-poor provisions are also already with the agencies. There is no need for a new law. What we need is sincere and committed implementation of the already existing laws,” he said.
The CBCP official was reacting to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s call to the Catholic hierarchy to support the passage of the controversial RH bill.
Santiago, who authored RH bill in the Senate, said that the desire to protect women and children from “unspeakable poverty” is a strong ground for passing the measure.
Invoking liberation theology, she said that it revolves around the theory that the message of Jesus Christ is “above all a call to struggle against the social forces of oppression.”
In Santiago’s first of her three-part co-sponsorship speech on the RH bill, she said that the proposed law is not against Church’s teachings.
“Liberation theology sees Jesus’s message as a call to struggle against the social forces of oppression. The present struggle for an RH Act to protect the health and quality of life of mother and child in the context of unspeakable poverty in the Philippines is part of (this),” she said.
Santiago said the Church must take a clear stand against social injustice and under liberation theology the first step to abolish it is to recognize that “the Church is tied to the unjust system that oppresses the very poor.”
Unfortunately for Santiago, Msgr. Figura could not connect how the RH bill would be able to address these “social forces of oppression”. “I could not see the logic. I am sorry to say that,” he said.
“Is RH bill a valid answer? Is it an answer to give solutions as early as possible or is RH bill just a little part, if that what it is, a little part of a bigger solution such as a sincere crusade against graft and corruption, the sincere commitment to distribute the land to whom they should belong, and sincere decision to stop human trafficking,” Figura added.
Santiago has decided to divide her speech into three parts, starting with the issue of primacy of conscience in Catholic theology mainly because the Catholic Church has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to the passage of the bill which requires government funding for contraceptives. [CBCPNews]

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