PEOPLE from different sectors, the religious, policy makers, and students closed ranks to uphold the sanctity of life and to protest the Reproductive Health bill pending in Congress at the UST Grandstand — among them world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and “pro-life” politicians like Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez and Environment Sec. Jose “Lito” Atienza.

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) said education on natural family planning and proper parenthood are the only moral alternatives that will preserve human life.

“The alternative on artificial family planning is giving education to the people on responsible parenthood,” Archbishop Teodoro Bacani told the Varsitarian. “Their (parents) responsibility is to bring children into the world but only those children whom they can raise up in human way.”

CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo shared the same view with Bacani that natural family planning should be promoted as it is “embedded in every woman’s body.”

“Natural family planning is our respect to the natural laws of God that is to preserve human life,” Lagdameo told the Varsitarian.

Meanwhile, ECFL Executive Secretary Fr. Melvin Castro called on to the people, not as faithful believers of the Church, but as human beings, to fight for the “gift” that God has given.

“Let us all stand with our belief that life is sacred. Let us protect our life and the life of our children because these are blessings which God has bestowed upon us,” Castro said.

‘Pacman,’ politicians are pro-life

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If his parents, Rosalio and Dionisia Pacquiao, were users of artificial birth control, the “People’s Champ” would not have existed today, Manny Pacquaio said in his short speech before the massive prayer rally.

“If my parents were not pro-life, there wouldn’t be a Manny Pacquiao today,” said Pacquaio, who was brought to the event by Atienza, the former mayor of Manila. “I support pro-life movements just as how you have supported me in my (boxing) battles.”

Atienza echoed Pacquiao’s statement.

“No one, not even the politicians and the government, have the right to interfere with God’s gift of life. Our life is sacred and we have no control over it,” Atienza said. “(You could) meddle with the government, with laws, but never meddle with life.”

Other guests were Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) party list representatives Rene Velarde and Wilfrido Villarama, former senator Francisco Tatad, and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim was also present despite overturning Atienza’s policy against promoting articial family planning in the city.
Golez, a pro-life advocate in the lower house since 1992, believes that a large population is actually an advantage.

“I believe in the power of the population, for it is a form of capital that is beneficial to the country. We should concentrate on investing in education and livelihood. In fact, I, too, came from a big and poor family but we were able to pull through,” Golez told the Varsitarian. “What we need is government assistance and proper parenthood education.”

‘Is God gone?’

Pro-life Philippines president Maria Wasan backed Golez’s parenthood education proposal, strongly opposing sex education among youth.

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“Mandatory sex education is like telling the youth that it is ok to have sex because there are contraceptives available anywhere and it is ok to get pregnant since abortion is legal. It is an attack to the sacred union of family,” Wasan told the Varsitarian.

Wasan also added that it is the right of the parents to choose how many children they want to raise, as long as their responsibilities are well-performed.

“The parents must be allowed to sustain their rights on planning the number of their offspring as long as they are responsible guardians,” said Wasan.
Contraceptives have multiple dangerous side-effects too, she said.

“We are against artificial birth control methods like ligation, condoms, and pills because they have tremendously bad side-effects on women,” Wasan said.

Instead of using contraceptives, Wasan cited four natural birth control methods which couples could choose from — basal body temperature and the Billings ovulation, standardized, and rhythm methods.

Taking a swipe at proponents of the Reproductive Health bills, she said that the family must be enveloped with love and God.

“The family, which is a sacred unit of the Church, must dwell on love and God. But with all of these artificial methods present, how could we promote its (family) sanctity? Is God gone?” Wasan said. “Fortunately, there are congressmen who are also pro-life, only that some of them are not yet active.”

Youth says ‘no’

Apart from prominent political and social figures, students from different Catholic schools also made their presence felt among the estimated 15,000 attendees.

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Lean Garcia, a sophomore college student of Angeles University in Pampanga, said that discipline is a better alternative than any artificial family planning method.

“If we only exercise discipline, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Artificial methods are no longer needed, because as a student of a Catholic school, I believe that it is against the religious laws,” Garcia told the Varsitarian.

Her beliefs were backed by Dr. Jose Serrano, the Angeles-based university’s student moderator.

“Economy is not our only problem. We could not compromise life only because we are experiencing financial problems. We must respect life, too,” he told the Varsitarian. “The Reproductive Bill has negative implications on the youth.”

At around 3 p.m., classes in UST were suspended by the secretary-general, to allow Thomasians to show their advocacy for the preservation of life.

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