Press Release
October 8, 2010

ANGARA ENCOURAGES OPEN DIALOGUE ON RH BILL

In a recent radio interview, Senator Edgardo J. Angara stated that the Reproductive Health bill should be discussed in an open, rational manner, appealing to the church to avoid making hasty judgments against the proponents of the controversial bill, while also advising those in favor to refrain from insulting the church.

"In my opinion, having an honest to goodness dialogue about this controversy is a step in the right direction. However, when one side simply refuses to listen to the other, it becomes counterproductive. We must conduct a multi-sector consultation, and arrange for a proper, balanced dialogue so that the people are able to hear all of the arguments," he said.

The veteran lawmaker also warned against exploiting the local media, saying that they may serve a better purpose that being used for threats and insults.

"I have been around long enough to know that these kind of issues will never die down if the parties involved keep using the media irresponsibly. Why not enlist the help of the press to instigate a proper dialogue?" he suggested.

Angara related how his own province of Aurora was among the first in the country to adopt a reproductive health program, proving that a successful compromise is possible.

"We started by making this kind of information available to the women of Aurora—the single women, the wives, the mothers. We helped them with their family planning: how big they wanted their family to be and how to achieve this without going against their religion. Fortunately, the church leaders in Aurora didn't hinder our efforts to teach the people by threatening us, or them with excommunication," he explained.

Angara reiterated the need for cooperation and willingness to make changes, to compromise, in order to settle this matter. He recommended that the concept of excommunication be put aside, at least for now.

"Simply put, excommunication shouldn't be an issue yet, since we're still trying to consider all the possible repercussions of this bill for different groups. At this stage, mentioning such a severe penalty becomes a very effective debate-stopper," he said.

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