ANTIPOLO City, Feb. 26, 2013—Underreported and hushed, certain provisions in R.A. 10354 or the RH Law on “prohibited acts”, sex education, among others, are designed to twist Catholics’ arms to go against their faith.
“You have a conflict…Magbabanggaan ‘yan e. We cannot in conscience follow the [RH] law,” said Atty. Ronaldo Reyes, who talked about the legal implications of the RH Law at the 4th Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) National Conference this morning.
Atty. Reyes zeroed in on several provisions in R.A. 10354; first off is the provision on “prohibited acts”, which states that health care providers, who are unwilling to go against their conscience by providing reproductive health services to patients, are obligated by law to refer them to other medical professionals, provided the case is not an “emergency”.
At first glance, it seems the perfect excuse for the Catholic doctor or nurse, but according to Atty. Reyes, the provision is a shabby cover-up that violates a person’s freedom of conscience.
“Ang ayaw kong gawin directly, the law is obliging me to do indirectly…Alam niyo in law, ang tawag diyan, accomplice ka e. Kinakasabwat ka sa isang wrong doing (You know, in law, you call that, being an accomplice. You are being made to play an active role in a wrong doing),” he explained.
No opt out
Another provision, which seems to paint Catholics into a corner is the provision on sex education, which is now integrated into general education subjects like science and mathematics and not a separate curriculum as originally planned.
According to Atty. Reyes, such a set-up is like telling Catholic parents not to bother bringing their children to school at all.
“So ‘yung sinasabi na parents can object, they cannot,” he added, saying the integration of sex ed into all the subjects now makes it impossible for parents to opt out because sex ed is not one specific subject anymore.
The “Atienza provision”
Another questionable provision is what, according to Atty. Reyes, legal minds like to call the “Atienza provision”, inspired by the pro-life former Manila mayor Lito Atienza who banned contraceptives in the city of Manila, despite drawing much flak for it.
According to Atty. Reyes, a provision in the RH law states that local executives who refuse to carry out R.A. 10354 will be penalized. In short, local authorities can no longer do an “Atienza” even if their conscience dictates that they do so.
He cited Article 2, section 5 of the Philippine Constitution — that guarantees “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference”—when describing the basis for Atienza’s decision.
“He believed as a Catholic that [providing contraceptives and other RH services] is against his faith.. Pa’no ‘yan ngayon? (How is that now?),” Atty. Reyes, a member of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, asked rhetorically.
More than 200 participants, some coming from as far as Ozamis, Zamboanga and Bicol, are attending the on-going 4th ECFL national conference at the St. Michael Retreat House, Antipolo City, Rizal. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]