Press Release
September 25, 2012


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, author and co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill in the Senate, praised businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan for supporting the RH Bill, despite opposition from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Pangilinan recently announced his "complete and total disengagement from the Ateneo," which he had generously supported financially in the past. He cited as one of his reasons the university's views on the RH Bill, which conflicted with his personal convictions.

In a letter to Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, S.J., Pangilinan said, "I do not agree with some of the CBCP's pronouncements, including its recent stance on the RH Bill. At times, I believe the CBCP has taken positions contrary to the interest of our country."

"[The CBCP] should earn its rightful place in the national debating table by showing tangibly and significantly its concern for the poor and the corrupt, and sharing the burden with business and government the enormous task of nation-building - including the appropriate moral formation of our people and our leaders," Pangilinan said.

Santiago lauded Pangilinan for courageously and publicly supporting the RH Bill.

"My only prayer is that more people would be as independent-minded as Manny," she said. "The RH Bill would be beneficial to our people, especially the poor. No one can help us but ourselves."

Pangilinan served as secondary sponsor in Santiago's 40th wedding anniversary with husband Narciso Y. Santiago Jr. last June 2011.

Santiago, along with co-sponsor Senator Pia Cayetano, is vigorously pushing for the passage of the RH bill in the Senate.

Santiago is dismayed that the Senate leadership has yet to calendar the RH Bill for plenary amendments.

"The Senate has not taken up the RH Bill for weeks. Why are they dragging their feet?" she said. "Let's just put it to a vote. The RH Bill is over ten years old, it is cowardly to keep postponing the decision."

In a speech last 15 September 2012 at the UP College of Social Work and Development, at a program sponsored by the Catholics for Reproductive Health, Santiago cited eight reasons why Catholics support the RH Bill. These are:

  • The Church does not consider anti-RH teaching as infallible.

  • The Catholic enjoys freedom of conscience.

  • RH observes the "preferential option for the poor," under liberation theology.

  • RH is part of today's sense of the faithful, also known as sensus fidelium.

  • Surveys show Catholic support for RH is "a sign of the times."

  • Since God is love, RH is proof of love for the poor and therefore is proof of love for God.

  • Anti-RH is cruelty to the poor.

  • The bill is over ten years old; it is cowardly to keep postponing the decision.

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