MANILA, July 17, 2011â€“Members of various religious and socio-civic groups have banded together to express their call for moral recovery and their support for the present administrationâ€™s pro-poor programs and campaign against all forms of corruption.
In a July 15 press conference at the Club Filipino, San Juan, which gathered representatives of Catholic, evangelical Christian and Muslim groups as well as speakers from the education and youth sectors, former congressman Dr. Benny Abante expressed the interfaith Pro-Life Coalitionâ€™s call.
â€œWe, the Prolife Coalition, comprising 40 strong religious and socio-civic groups, declare our united and unwavering support of all pro-poor programs of the present administration; we likewise convey our unequivocal support for its relentless fight against all forms of corruption and for every centerpiece program that promotes and fosters social justice, equity and genuine development, especially in the countryside,â€ Dr. Abante read from a prepared statement titled Reunite and restore: A call for national solidarity and moral recovery.
He also emphasized the allianceâ€™s support for more socially and morally relevant legislation, and declared opposition to efforts that depart from the drive for national moral recovery, citing the pursuit of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
â€œWe, the Prolifers, strongly oppose and will vehemently resist any or all moves by any individual, group or institution to enact the RH bill into law, particularly the senseless spending of billions of pesos on contraceptives in the guise of responsible parenthood and â€˜safe sex,â€™ the inclusion of sex education in the curriculum for children and minors, virtually usurping the divine responsibility of parents to teach their own children, as we urge our President to exercise his power to veto such, if and when this bill passes both Houses,â€ he stated.
Several Islamic groups belong to the coalition, with the Imam Council of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro Civil Society Alliance represented at the press conference.
â€œThere are so many verses of the Koran that state about pro-life [principles]. Sabi sa Koran, donâ€™t kill your children by fear of poverty. Huwag matakot because Allah will sustain you,â€ stated Eleem Said Akmad Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines.
â€œWe believe that children are gifts from God, not accidents to be avoided. In nurturing and properly [upbringing] these gifts can we look forward to a bright future,â€ said Bishop Reuben Abante of Baptist group Biblemode.
â€œThe challenge before us, from the anonymous Filipino father to the highest official in the land, is to provide for these, our children, until they become able. The call for the national leadership is for concrete action that promotes the faster generation of jobs that Filipino parents can be productive in, and education that helps parents raise children who know and practice good manners and right conduct, not how to avoid pregnancies. Procreation rightly remains a privilege reserved exclusively for married couples,â€ he added.
â€œWe declare our full support for the Presidentâ€™s fight against graft and corruption,â€ the bishop continued. â€œWe applaud the campaign for decency and good taste and that against smoking in public places. These are sterling examples of doing the right things. Legislating the reproductive health bill is not. Not when it shall promote wantonness and promiscuity through the purchase and mandatory distribution of contraceptives; not when it shall shatter innocence by teaching sex education to children and minors, paving the way for the eventual destruction of the Filipino family and the desecration of the sanctity of marriage.â€
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles appealed for solidarity on the campaign for a culture of life. â€œSana magsama-sama tayo na ipagtanggol ang buhay,â€ he said.
Dr. Abante concluded the coalitionâ€™s statement with a call to all Filipinos: â€œWe hereby enjoin not only our government leaders, lawmakers and public servants, but every freedom-loving and God-fearing Filipino to do away with apathy, complacency and â€œbahala naâ€ mentality and take an active stance in confronting these moral and social cancers of our time, eroding the very foundation of our family, society and country.â€
He then announced a â€œCongress of the Faithful,â€ an event to be held on the morning of July 25 to manifest the peopleâ€™s perspective on the true situation of the country.
Details of â€œCongress of the Faithful,â€ which will take place several hours before President Benigno Simeon Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address, will be announced in the next few days.
As the press conference was ongoing, students from several schools including the University of the Philippines and Metropolitan International Christian Academy stood outside Club Filipino and demonstrated their stand on the RH bill with placards bearing â€œYes to Life, No to RH billâ€ and other messages.
Others who spoke at the press conference were former Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) head Bro. Rolando Dizon, former Senator Francisco Tatad, Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Legal Office; Atty. Jeremiah Belgica, Legal Counsel of the Christian Bishop Ministers Association of the Philippines (CBMAP) and Chairman of Kabataang Bagong Buhay; Renelyn Tan, Regional Director of World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific (WYAAP); and John Walter Juat of UP Against the RH Bill. (Diana Uichanco)