Santiago criticizes church’s threat vs supporters of RH bill

November 26, 2012 11:27 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 26 – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago criticized on Monday the latest campaign by some Catholic clerics against the controversial Reproductive Health bill.

Santiago, a Constitutional law expert, said the threat to punish Congress members who will vote for the RH bill constitutes “borderline violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.”

“The separation principle includes what is called the establishment clause, as well as the free exercise clause. The general guide is that the government should observe neutrality,” she said.

Santiago, a feisty lawmaker from Iloilo, said that as a politician, she does not believe there is such thing as Catholic vote.

“In the past, the Catholic Church campaigned against Sen. Juan Flavier because as health secretary, he freely distributed condoms. But Flavier won the elections. Thus, the so-called Catholic vote is a political myth,” Santiago said.

The lady lawmaker said that of all the major churches in the Philippines, only the Catholic Church is against the RH measure. The rest are pro-RH, namely, Iglesia ni Cristo, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, and the Assembly of Darul-Iftah of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Santiago also cited certain surveys showing that a big majority of Filipinos are pro-RH.

Santiago is co-sponsor of Senate Bill 2865 or an Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development. The other sponsor is Sen. Pia Cayetano.

The Senate is already in the period of amendments and Cayetano has expressed hope to submit it to a vote after approving the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

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