For the sake of accuracy (and the chance to portray all of this as the off-Broadway play it might as well be), below are script-style excerpts of the exchange between members of the Filipino Freethinkers and anti-RH individuals at the forum’s Q&A segment. Most lines were lifted verbatim.
Atty. Montes has just concluded her segment of the lecture, wherein most of her arguments attacked provisions in the Bill that had already been nixed by the authors. The floor has been opened for questions, and first to approach is Red Tani, President of the Filipino Freethinkers.
Are you aware of the recent amendments that the authors of the Bill agreed to, like the ones that removed the provisions about employers needing to provide contraceptives for their employees — that’s one — and number two is the sex education component; they ordered it to make that optional?
Yeah. I’m aware of these, but I don’t know whether they were printed already in a new form. However, I said earlier, the assumptions and the intent of the Bill are so objectionable that any kind of modification is not acceptable. For example, the sex education. They made it high school na lang.
Ah, no. They made it optional. Totally optional.
Okay, totally optional. But we know that a lot of parents are so uninformed about this, they’d rather have their children attend these classes. The sex education is presented as though it’s good for their children, so the likelihood that they would send their children is high. For example, when they piloted it in Olongapo — I watched an interview with teachers and parents — I was so disheartened. I was very sad that parents — unknowingly — were singing high praises about the [classes]. They didn’t know what these things are teaching their children.
Dr. Montes passes the mic over to Atty. Montes.
I heard about the quote-unquote proposed amendments — I don’t know if they’ve actually been incorporated in the Bill itself or they’re just discussing it, so —
It’s as good as incorporated.
Dr. Montes (interjecting)
But see, that’s another problem.They’re making all these changes all the time, and we’re not so informed about them, about the status. But I know about them.
I have another question. A while ago, I heard you say that for families that do not want to have children, even permanently, they can use natural family planning (NFP). I studied the official Catholic position on this. The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that you cannot use NFP if you plan never to have children at all.
Let’s say I’m a model, and you’re a whatever, and we want to get married for companionship. I don’t want to destroy my figure, and I want you to be able to continue traveling abroad. Let’s get married but not have children? That’s not okay.
One last question: to the Catholics who are against the RH Bill for whatever reason, they can never change their mind, should they leave the Church, or not get communion, or what do you suggest these pro-RH Catholics who cannot change their mind, what should they do?
I’m going to say something. I hope I will not be misquoted. This is me saying it, it’s not official Church. When you’re a Catholic, you agree with a set of behaviors that’s presented to you. So what’s the point of being Catholic if you cannot agree to the set of beliefs, and the set of moral laws that the religion has presented to you? So it’s like a square circle when you’re saying a Catholic is pro-RH. It’s incompatible. It’s like water and oil. When you say that you repudiate the bishops, again that’s inconsistent. The bishops are the descendants of the disciples, the apostles of Christ.
So what do you suggest that they —
In psychology –I’m a psychologist as well as a medical doctor — we have to be consistent with our behavior, and our beliefs have to be unified for us to be a whole person and to be mentally healthy. So some people, when they learn something that is not consistent with their behavior, they should change their behavior. But some people cannot change their behavior. So, to remain whole and consistent, what do you do? You change your belief.
Some people have this tendency to think that “I can love God as a Catholic but I don’t have to agree with the Church.” The problem with this way of thinking is that the Church was founded by Christ. The Church was founded by God. The Church is an extension of Christ. The bishop, the Pope, they’re all Christ representatives, so it’s impossible to love God without obeying his representatives. I would advise [pro-RH Catholics] to have an open mind, to consider the possibility that the teachings of the Church on this matter may be true. Right now, the term “open-mindedness” has been batted about, then why not be open-minded about the possibility that the teachings of the Church may be true? And really study. Really study the teachings of the Church and if you study with an open mind, you’d see that there really is no conflict between faith and reason.
Kenneth Keng, FF’s RH Committee Head, gets his turn at the mic.
As pro-RH and anti-RH people, how do you propose that we might do to move the process along in Congress? Because I’ve been going to some of the sessions, and it seems that there is a lot of stalling going on. Because I would think that both pro-RH and anti, then, would appreciate having the process move forward and come to a vote. But it seems that there are certain congressmen who are interested in making sure that it does not come to a vote, at least in my layman’s perspective. I suppose, then, that the best way to really help solve this issue would be to go to Congress and let us have the vote.
My opinion is there should be no RH law. For me, this is a matter of no compromise. Let us not be naive. This is greater and far deadlier than most people think.
End of Part 3.
Video footage of the event will be up soon.
Update: Below is our video recording of the anti RH Conference at Megamall (Part 3 of 3).