Press Release
October 1, 2010


Senator Franklin Drilon today deplored what he described as "hysterical reaction" the statement of Surigao del Sur Bishop Nereo Odchimar that President Benigno Aquino III could be "excommunicated" by the Catholic Church over the issue of reproductive health and birth control.

"Threats and intimidation will not bring us to a rational conclusion on this controversy nor will they help solve the problems of the country," Drilon said, stressing that he was addressing his statement to Bishop Odchimar and not to the entire Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) hierarchy. Odchimar is the current CBCP president.

"We lament and are saddened by the hysterical reaction of Bishop Odchimar," said Drilon, noting that the bishop's statement citing the possibility that President Aquino could be excommunicated by the Catholic Church was "exceptionally uncalled for."

Noting that Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda clarified that President Aquino has not made a major policy shift on the reproduction health issue and was open to a dialogue, Drilon said he hoped Odchimar would approach the matter in a "sober and rational manner and refrain from making inflammatory statements such as that threat of excommunication."

"Dialogue is the best way to resolve this controversy because we believe government and the Catholic Church share a common vision which is addressing the mass poverty problem of the country and providing a better society for our people," Drilon said.

Drilon said he was also surprised by Odchimar's critical statement now. "How I wish Bishop Odchimar was similarly vocal when the nation was confronted by abuses and excesses of the Arroyo administration such as the ZTE bribery scandal, the Fertilizer Scam, the Hello Garci election fraud and more recently, the P1 million Le Cirque dinner in New York," Drilon said. "Sadly, we did not hear from him then."

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