EXPERTS from various fields gathered in a colloquium to share their views on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the Medicine Auditorium last July 22, concluding that the measure being pushed in Congress is redundant and could even be harmful.

More than a thousand Thomasians attended the forum titled “The RH Bill Colloquium: the Catholic Professionals’ Perspective.”

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, who opened the forum, said the RH bill is unnecessary because it is “a mere duplication” of Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women.

“Many [of the provisions in the RH Bill] are verbatim copies of existing laws,” Golez said.

Both Golez and Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), pointed to “sweeteners” in the provisions of the bill to make them “enticing and alluring.”

“The evil wants your womb to be sterile,” he told the women in the audience, while telling the youth in general, “You have to carry on this battle; this is yours. You will be destroyed by the RH bill.”

Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said the RH bill is “unconstitutional” because it violates the Declaration of Principles and State Policies provided in Article II of the Constitution.

The bill’s intention for couples to limit the number of children violates Section 12, in which “the state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous and social institution.”

Moreover, the Constitution enjoins the State to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,” and this is violated by the use of contraceptives, said Divina.

The Constitution also states that “the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government,” but “mandatory sex education [under the RH bill] takes away the parents’ right to teach morality [to their children] in accordance to their religious beliefs,” Divina argued.

“I’m confident that the RH bill will never be passed into a law,” he said. “Even if it would be passed by the Congress, it would be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.”

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Remarking that “UST is the only university recognized in heaven,” Divina said it is the duty of Thomasians to “speak up” and “fight to achieve the will of God.”

Other speakers said graft and corruption is the real cause of poverty, not overpopulation.

Castro said an officer from the Commission on Audit had said RH bill proponents want contraceptives placed under the category of “essential medicines” to avoid undergoing the government’s strict auditing process.

Economics professor Carlos Manapat said “overpopulation is a myth” and “there is no clear-cut correlation between population and per capita income.”

He added that a high population is “a sign of development” and that population control is a technique of richer countries for developing countries like the Philippines to be dependent on aid.

“Poverty is not solved by simply eliminating people. Poverty has always been a problem even if there were scarcely any people,” Manapat said.

Dr. Ma. Corazon Zaida-Gamilla, chairman of the UST Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said those pushing for the bill are promoting a “contraceptive mentality,” peddling the idea that using contraceptives means more chances to “get rich.”

“But the poor will die before they get rich because of the side effects [of oral contraceptives],” she added.

Dr. Angelita Aguirre, ethics professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, agreed with Gamilla and cited the side effects of birth control pills, such as breast, cervical, and liver cancer, stroke, and heart and blood abnormalities.

Meanwhile, the failure rate of condoms can be as high as 35 percent, Aguirre said.

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It is the responsibility of Catholics, including homosexuals, to practice chastity and sexual abstinence, she said.

“The rectum is not made for sexual intercourse,” Aguirre said. “[Sexual] abstinence is the only thing that works 100 percent.”

The colloquium, organized by the Medicine Student Council, was initially set to be held in the Angelo King Auditorium at the UST Hospital Benavides Cancer Institute, but the huge number of attendees required a larger venue.

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