Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales

Rizal course 1956: Reproductive health 2011

By Elizabeth Angsioco

‘‘The church always wins,” said Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. This statement speaks volumes about how powerful the Catholic hierarchy regards itself to be. History, however, proves this statement as UNTRUE.

In 1956, Catholic bishops vehemently opposed the passage of Senate Bill 438: “An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private Schools, Colleges and Universities Courses on the Life, Works, and Writings of Jose Rizal, particularly his Novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing the Printing, and Distribution Thereof…” authored by Senators Jose B. Laurel Sr., and Claro M. Recto. This was approved by the House and Senate on 17 May 1956, and signed into law as Republic Act 1425 by then President Ramon Magsaysay on 12 June of the same year. The Catholic hierarchy LOST.

This piece is inspired by a tweet from Dean Jorge Bocobo with a link ( to a very interesting May 1956 article by Teodoro M. Locsin entitled “The Church under attack.” Anthropologist Michael Tan in 2009 also wrote an informative column based on “The Controversial Rizal Bill,” an article from the December 1956 issue of Rizaliana magazine. Both articles carried accounts of how the Catholic Church miserably lost in its fight against the “Rizal bill.”

Reading these left me dumbfounded but inspired. I was amazed at the striking similarities between the struggles for the Rizal and RH bills. They have one common enemy: the Catholic hierarchy, which, after 55 years, has not budged an inch. It uses the same tactics, the same arguments.

Like reproductive health, the Rizal bill was quite controversial too. It polarized Congress. The protagonists were some of the most illustrious names in Philippine politics. At the Senate, defending the bill besides Laurel and Recto were Senators Lorenzo Tanada, Quintin Paredes, and Domocao Alonto. Those fiercely opposed were Senators Francisco Rodrigo (who ran and won as a Catholic candidate), Decoroso Rosales (brother of the then Archbishop, and perhaps was related to the present Archbishop Rosales) and Mariano Cuenco.

At the House of Representatives, identified players were Cebu Representatives Pedro Lopez and Ramon Durano, and Pampanga Representative Emilio Cortez. Lopez favored the Rizal bill while the positions of the last two were unclear. They were mentioned because their passionate debate ended in a fist fight.

Like in the RH bill, personalities and organizations were likewise divided. Then Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson and General Emilio Aguinaldo stood for the Rizal bill, with groups like College Editors’ Guild, the Knights of Rizal, Women Writers of the Vernacular, Philippine Public School Teachers’ Association, and Philippine Veterans Legion.

Oppositors were the Catholic Action of the Philippines, Holy Name Society of the Philippines, Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, and Daughters of Isabela which were obviously closely allied with the church.

The parallelism does not end there.

The bishops issued a pastoral letter against the Rizal bill as they recently did on RH. The bishops said that Rizal’s works violated Catholic canon law and accused Rizal of having attacked various Church dogmas and practices. All these sound very familiar 55 years after. Only, now the bishops rant against the RH bill.

In 1956, Bacolod City Bishop Manuel Yap threatened to campaign against politicians favoring the Rizal bill in the following elections. Haven’t we heard the exact same threat from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines against pro-RH politicians?

Mayor Lacson called those against the Rizal bill “bigoted and intolerant.” He also walked out of mass when the pastoral letter was about to be read. Now, we hear the same words hurled against the CBCP and walk outs from Sunday masses are getting common.

General Aguinaldo was equally passionate. He attacked Filipino priests, saying that the influence of the Spanish friars was still present and insisted on the separation of church and state. Isn’t this similar to Carlos Celdran’s “Damaso” protest and the call for the church to stop meddling in politics?

In Congress, Cebu Representative Lopez also hit the hierarchy for its temerity to impose on a Congressional committee what books should be banned in schools. I can almost hear anti-RH groups’ familiar line in committee hearings that only natural family planning should be allowed by law and the rest should be illegal.

Senator Laurel walked out from a hearing in protest of “filibustering” by those against the Rizal bill. While RH champions have not walked out, filibustering and endless questioning are delaying tactics used by opposing lawmakers like Roilo Golez and Karlo Nograles.

Senator Rosales said the church would rather close down its more than 600 schools than allow Catholic students to read Rizal. Senator Recto doubted they would do this because of the huge profits church got from the schools. Recto also countered that the schools would be nationalized if closed down. Such threats made by politicians on behalf of bishops sound quite similar with how anti-RH lawmakers “represent” the CBCP in Congress now.

Senator Rodrigo, in going against the Rizal bill said that “the purpose of this bill was to put President Magsaysay in a very tight spot.” He asserted that whatever Magsaysay would do, he would displease some groups. Using a popular president is a tactic we’ve also seen. Representative Anthony Golez in one RH Committee hearing said that President Aquino should be careful in his positioning because he might be impeached due to RH.

Rodrigo also said that a Catholic could get permission to read Rizal’s books if the church thought that doing so would not shake one’s faith. This sounds eerily similar to the “no prescription, no condom” ordinance of Barangay Ayala Alabang!

These happened 55 years ago, yet the tactics and arguments used by the Catholic hierarchy remain. The only difference is the bishops now employ these against the RH bill.

The bishops lost in 1956. Given the present context where citizens openly speak up against the church and demand accountability from legislators, where more lawmakers are openly championing the bill and media continues to cover the issue. The CBCP may be facing another DEFEAT.

Rizal course 1956: Reproductive Health 2011,” is republished with permission from Elizabeth Angsioco

Manila prelate 'supports Comelec' amid automation problems

Manila prelate ‘supports Comelec’ amid automation problems

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales on Wednesday expressed support for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) amid the problems being encountered by automated election system.

“We support them with prayer and ask the good Lord to protect them, to guide them,” said Rosales during a prayer session held at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila on Wednesday.

The archbishop issued the statement after some precinct count optical scan (PCOS) units tested last Monday failed to read test ballots accurately, forcing the Comelec to pull out all the compact flash (CF) cards from their respective voting machines. (See: Some poll machines fail to read votes accurately)

He said that at times like this, everybody should lend a hand so that the elections will push through. “We must support the efforts of the Comelec to ensure the coming elections will be peaceful, orderly, and honest,” he said.

Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, who was also present during the session, said that the public should ask God to help the Comelec fulfill its duty.

“We must always believe that there is a greater power that can make things right,” he said, adding that he believes that the poll body under chairman Jose Melo can pull off the automated elections.

Melo led a prayer for a clean, honest, and orderly elections during the event. – GMANews.TV

Running priest to go on hunger strike, hits Church's ‘pro-admin stance’

Running priest to go on hunger strike, hits Church’s ‘pro-admin stance’

Catholic priest Father Robert Reyes, who has gained a reputation for running to advocate causes he believes in, will not run this time but refuse food, as he decried the pro-administration stand of a ranking Church official who rejected people power if the May 10 elections fail.

Fr. Reyes on Wednesday announced he would go on a hunger strike from 10 a.m. on May 8 to 10 a.m on Election Day “to appeal to the Comelec for a credible elections,” in the wake of increasing public concern caused by the failure of counting machines in field tests this week.

At the same time, the “running priest” chided the Catholic church for following what he called “the Malacañang line.”

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales on Sunday rejected the possibility of a people power uprising if the May 10 election fails or is tainted by massive cheating, dismissing such calls as irresponsible and “crazy, crazy, crazy.” (See: Cardinal Rosales rejects people power if elections fail)

“Many Catholic churches are badly compromised, kaya hindi na kailangang mag-dalawang isip kung ano ang ibig sabihin ni Cardinal Rosales noong isang araw na hindi siya magtatawag ng People Power (so they didn’t need to think twice about what Cardinal Rosales meant the other day about not calling for People Power). That is definitely the Malacañang line. Unfortunately, the Church has become the mouthpiece of this administration,” the running priest told reporters.

Reyes also joined the call for a manual count by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) led by lawyer Harry Roque, who had accused Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales of planning a military junta in case of a failure of elections. (See: Lawyer condemns Gonzales’ plan to effect ‘transitional junta’)

“The moral scandal here is that she [Macapagal-Arroyo] will stay in power. This is the worst thing that could ever happen to us. It is like a priest telling us, ipagpatuloy mo ang kasalanan mo, basta ‘wag kang papahuli, tayong dalawa lang ang nakakaalam (continue your sinning, just don’t get caught, only the two of us will know),” Reyes said.

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a public sinner. She should not even be allowed to receive communion, but she receives communion from all the bishops,” Reyes lamented.

Despite Cardinal Rosales’ rejection of people power, Reyes urged the rest of the Catholic Church to take a ‘pro-people’ stand.

Ito ang malungkot, walang posisyon ang simbahang Katoliko (This is so sad, the Catholic church not having a position). And even if I risk being excommunicated, I’d like to ask the bishops to [abandon their] political loyalties to a corrupt and immoral president and decide in favor of democracy and our people.”

Reyes joined the CCM’s calls to take protests to the streets in case of a failure of elections.

“We’re reaching a point where people have to take a stand. If our institutions are all badly compromised, people should go out to the streets. Prepare for people power and let us save this country from irrelevant and compromised leadership,” the outspoken priest added.—JV, GMANews.TV

Heed Rosales' advice, shun people power talk – Palace

Heed Rosales’ advice, shun people power talk – Palace
By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has called on members of the Catholic faith to heed the advice of Manila Archbishop Gau-dencio Cardinal Rosales to shun talks of yet another people power in case massive fraud takes place during elections as insinuated by one of the presidential aspirants.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar welcomed the statement from Rosales, whom he described as one of the “princes of the Philippine Church.”

“There is no condition or basis for the call to people power by certain quarters,” he said.

“We are gratified by the position taken by the Cardinal who is obviously a man of peace who speaks for a church that is committed to peace,” Olivar said.

“We hope that our countrymen who belong to the same church, as almost all of us do, will heed his words and follow the example of prudence and level headedness that he is counseling us as a shepherd to his flock,” he added.

It was Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III who warned of the people taking to the streets if there is massive fraud in Monday’s elections.

Olivar said that there was no place for such calls in society anymore, not at this time when the institutions and processes are in a much better shape than they were before.

“There are no objective conditions, objective basis to call for street adventurism from any quarter no matter how well intentioned they are. Our institutions and processes are in much better shape today, more than 20 years after EDSA 1 and 10 years after EDSA 2,” Olivar said.

Rosales slammed as “irresponsible” and “crazy” warnings coming from some presidential candidates that there would be civil unrest if they lose in the elections next week.

Rosales did not name a specific presidential bet but said anyone who brings up such an idea is irresponsible.

“Whoever said that… that is irresponsible thinking,” he told reporters. – With Helen Flores

Church enlists Villar, de los Reyes in drive vs RH bill

Church enlists Villar, de los Reyes in drive vs RH bill
By Leila Salaverria, Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Better late than never.

One week before the May 10 elections, the Catholic Church has sought to enlist candidates running for public office in its campaign against a controversial reproductive health (RH) bill that seeks to curb a runaway population growth blamed for creeping poverty.

At least two presidential candidates—Sen. Manny Villar and Councilor JC de los Reyes of Olongapo—Sunday signed the covenant to protect life and to oppose the RH bill that both the Senate and the House of Representatives failed to enact at the close of their regular session in February.

A sprinkling of senatorial candidates was also on hand for the event that followed a Mass said by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

But Rosales later told reporters that the candidates’ signing the covenant did not mean that the Church would support or campaign for them.

“Probably, you will give it a political innuendo, saying that those who signed will be the candidates of the Church or who will be campaigned for by the Church,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s the essence of the covenant. They are really intent on preserving the sacredness, unity, quality of the Filipino family that we have now.”

In his homily, Rosales reiterated the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) against the reproductive health bill and spoke at length against its sex education component beginning at Grade 5.

“There is a basic reverence and dignity that life demands, at whatever stage it is found,” he said. “No one should insult the value of both love and life and the values of the Filipino families and the fidelity they put in both.”

Rosales said this was why there was no need to teach the young the use of contraceptives and that sooner or later they would know how these devices worked.

The Constitution, Rosales said, states that the government should support the parents’ right and duty to rear the youth for the development of their moral character.

“Shall we say now that teaching the young how to put on those contraptions is developing moral character?” he asked.

“There is something wrong here. Let us pray that we have better thinkers for the country,” he added.

Vote pro-life candidates

Rosales also warned against the “power, the lobby and the money” behind those pushing contraceptives. “Do not sell the Filipino family down the drain. There are more people outside our country who welcome our values, our traditions and our faith,” he said.

Rosales’ Mass at Manila Cathedral was followed by the signing of the covenant for life wherein candidates pledged to block the RH bill as well as measures that will push for divorce, euthanasia, abortion, tyrannical population control and homosexual unions.

Before the Mass ended, Council of the Laity national president Edgardo Tria Tirona called on Catholic voters to elect only those who follow the Church’s pro-life position.

“We reiterate our solidarity with our Church leaders on the imperative of protecting the sanctity of life … Let us elect only those who have made clear their belief in the sacredness of life and vow to protect it,” Tirona said.

“We have always been pro-life. This (covenant) is an affirmation of our pro-life position,” Villar later told reporters.

“Of course, we will implement this. This is my belief and it will be my guide if I’m elected president,” Villar said. “I will not make it law. You decide for yourself. In other words, you have the right to do what you want.”

“I’ve always been pro-life,” he said, pointing out that he opposed the RH bill, along with Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on the Family and Life, said other presidential candidates had signaled their intention to sign the covenant.

Aquino position

However, Edwin Lacierda, spokesperson for Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the leading presidential candidate in the surveys, said that the Liberal Party standard-bearer did not get an invitation to the signing.

Aquino has been criticized by Catholic groups for his stand on the RH bill, but Lacierda said that Aquino did not support the measure in its present form.

He explained that Aquino maintained that the country’s high population growth “must be addressed.”

“The state should inform and educate the public, especially the poor, of their choices of family planning, both natural and modern,” Lacierda said.

“We should leave it to the parents to choose the size of their family and the method. So, our end-position respects the conscience of each individual,” he added.

Lacierda said Aquino would not restrict the public’s choice only to natural family planning, the only method approved by the Church.

“If you are Catholic and you choose only natural family planning methods, then that’s OK. But the government should not restrict the choices of the public,” he said.

Other politicians present at the Mass were Pimentel, his daughter Gwendolyn, who is running for the Senate, former Sen. Francisco Tatad, and Ang Kapatiran senatorial candidates Jo Imbong, Adrian Sison, Rizalito David and Manuel Valdehuesa.

Bill proquality life

Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, the bill’s principal author, has said that the measure seeks to provide information and access to both natural and modern family planning methods which are medically safe and legally permissible.

“The bill is not anti-life. It is pro-quality life,” Lagman said. “It will empower couples with information and opportunity to plan and space their children.”

He denied that the bill would lead to legalization of abortion. He said that many Catholic countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Ireland, banned abortion while vigorously promoting the use of contraceptives.

The bill does not claim to be a cure for poverty, Lagman said.

“It simply recognizes the verifiable link between a huge population and poverty. Unbridled population growth stunts socioeconomic development and aggravates poverty,” he said, pointing to a 2004 study by the Asian Development Bank.

The National Statistics Office estimates that there were 92.2 million Filipinos as of 2009, a third of them surviving on a dollar a day, the poverty threshold defined by the World Bank. The population is projected to hit the 100-million mark by 2015.