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Tag Archive | "RH"

In Baguio for RH Verdict

We went to Baguio last April 7 for the Supreme Court’s decision on the Reproductive Health Law. Here’s how it turned out.

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Convenience Confessional: RH vs. Rape

With the resounding defeat of Church lobbyists on the matter of the RH Law, Fr. Melvin Castro of the CBCP said that he could at least thank the law’s proponent and principal author Albay Representative Edcel Lagman for one thing—because of the publicity of the RH debates, young Catholics are now confessing the sin of using contraception.

If you are familiar at all with the Catholic Church and its behavior regarding rapes by its employed priests, you would know that they view confession as so sacred that any part of it cannot even be used as testimony against a rapist. A priest hearing the confession of a rapist cannot be compelled to reveal that confession to authorities, secular or ecclesiastical. The priest is bound, upon pain of excommunication, never to speak of the secret.

Castro’s statements emphasize the complete hypocrisy and lack of human compassion of the Catholic Church, where it can just as easily break that sacrament when it can score cheap political points but never do it for its institution’s victims. Without revealing specifics, Castro, and whoever reported the confessions to him, broke that sacrament.

Of course, Castro denies breaking the sacramental seal. He says the identity of the penitent must be “publicly” revealed in order for the seal to be truly violated. It appears that the sins you tell your priest are fair game for gossip as long as they don’t tell everyone your name. If only the Church would exploit such technicalities to support police investigating rapist priests.


Where There’s Gold…

The sacrament of confession is a particularly strange relic marking the ancient and bygone political powers of the Catholic Church. Through this sacrament, priests are told by penitents, both the small and the powerful, their deepest darkest secrets, for the guarantee that they will be forgiven by God. Needless to say, the confessional is a goldmine for blackmail and coercion. It was particularly useful in discovering the Katipunero rebellion during the Philippine Revolution.

The confessional is a very intimate place. It is at this place the faithful are most vulnerable as they are encouraged not to hold anything back. In fact, it is itself a mortal sin to willfully keep any grievous evil from a priest during confession, as an earnest confession clears one’s soul of any wrongdoing.

Assuming you don’t sin on the way, if you get hit by a car going out of Church after confession, you are going straight to heaven—no purgatory necessary. The confessional is where priests have believers by the balls. This is true both figuratively and literally.


The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

Dave Rudofsky was 8 years old in the 1980’s. Like most Catholic children his age, he would soon prepare for receiving the literal body of Jesus Christ in the form of bread. This means he first has to clean the vessel that is his body by confessing all his sins in his first holy confession. His confessor, Rev. James Burnett took advantage of the 8 year-old’s vulnerability and molested him.

Cases like Dave’s have become so frequent that Pope John Paul II issued the encyclical Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela in 2001. This updated Crimen sollicitationis, released in 1962 during Pope John XXIII’s tenure, which tackled the problem of priests using the confessional for the purpose of sexual activity. Among those outlined as “grave delicts” or violations of canon law in Sacramentorum was “Solicitation to sin with the confessor against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, in the act of, context of or pretext of the Sacrament of Penance.” This was reinforced by the head of the Inquisition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in De delictis gravioribus.

However, in addition to condemning rapist priests using the confessional to, for example, forgive sexual partners of the sins they commit together, these statements also reiterate the inviolability of the seal of the sacrament of confession. No one must ever reveal what goes on during confession, even if it means justice for a rape victim. This would be a “direct violation of the sacramental seal.”

Though Castro argues that he and his cohorts did not break the sacramental seal, it can be argued that they did so indirectly. The sacramental seal is so deeply regarded that Crimen itself states that during canonical trials conducted to investigate rapes, any testimony that might even “suggest a direct or indirect violation of the seal” will be thrown out of the case and will not be recorded (Crimen sollicitationis, Chapter III(52)). Castro’s political grandstanding surely suggests at least an indirect violation. More to the point, regardless of any technical wrongdoing under canon law, Castro shows the moral cowardice of the Church and its employees—revealing some confessions when expedient while keeping others when inconvenient.


The Secret’s in the Telling

Doctors enjoy physician-patient privilege. They do not reveal the contents of their consultations with patients with anyone, upon pain of having their license revoked. This is to make sure there is a culture of trust between doctors and patients; it improves the medical relationship, which results in more accurate diagnoses. The same could be said as the motivation behind the sacramental seal, but at a far grander and cosmic scale. However, doctors are still obliged by secular law to report information to the police if their patients pose a threat to society, among other situations. Priests do not have such ethical or legal duties to the nations they operate in. Their duty is to the king in the Vatican first.

The Church does not care about the harm it causes society (indeed, denies it) and does everything it takes, even going against their own principles, to make sure their institution survives for centuries to come. The Catholic Church has consistently used the seal of the confessional as a defense against criminal investigation of rapist priests. Melvin Castro reveals what this defense truly is—a sham and an abuse of religious freedom.

This Lent, think about whether you can trust your priest with your sins. Think about Dave the next time you walk into a confessional. From the start, the Church has acted as if its hands have been bound with supernatural chains, unable to help rape victims by disclosing details revealed during confessions. Castro’s statements expose that these chains are imaginary. Goodness knows what other imaginary things they tell the faithful.

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Tanod Tells Truth About Anti-RH Lies

We interviewed Tanod/BPSO Arsenio Dela Cruz Jr. today about his encounter with Rizalito David and the anti-RH camp. This confirms once and for all that the anti-RH lied about having permits, and then lied about lying about having permits to demonstrate at SB park.

This also reveals yet another lie: Rizalito David claimed to the tanod that he was a lawyer. As you might have guessed, nowhere in Mr. David’s WikiPilipinas page does it say that he is a lawyer. What it should say is that he is also an Old Snake himself.

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Inglorious Gifts

It used to be that crimes were done in the name of God. Hand it to the inglorious Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to hit rock bottom and commit malfeasance for bishops’ birthdays. Yes, that’s birthday-plus-s because the Mitsubishi Montero gift was not a lone event. On March 9, 2006, Arroyo made a much bigger offering to mark the birthday of Pampanga Archbishop Paciano “Apu Ceto” Aniceto—policies on women and the Filipino family that, in her words, “would be the best birthday gift” she could give. Unconcerned about displaying the power of Catholic bishops during Arroyo’s rule, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) released the following account:

[Arroyo:] “It must be providential that the birthday of Apu Ceto (her important adviser) falls within International Women’s Week when I have to make policy statements on women’s concerns and issues relating to them.”
After the concelebrated mass held in the Bishop’s honor at the Mother of Good Counsel seminary in this city, the President would attend a meeting of all female members of her cabinet in which women’s issues would be discussed.
After this, the President said she would make a declaration that “a strong family makes a strong republic”, and follow up with measures designed to further strengthen the Filipino family.
“This I think would be the best birthday gift I could give to Apu Ceto”, the President said amidst loud applause from the audience composed mostly of the bishop’s religious congregation in the province.

Strange but true. Our highest public official openly gifted someone who is not a woman and does not claim to have a wife or kids with policies on women and families. Can this be just one of those quirkiness that makes our great nation so, well… quirky? To answer this, we have to go further into the Archbishop’s background and the context when this event occurred.

Arroyo’s Gifts

Luckily, the regime then was truly indifferent about revealing Catholic church influence over governance. The same PIA piece stated that the Archbishop was the President’s adviser on “issues concerning population, family, women welfare and health” and was consulted on March 2001, just two months into Arroyo’s term, prior to her making a statement on these issues; that the President “consults with him when making a choice for a new Secretary of Health”; and that at an Interfaith Summit and the UN General Assembly in 2005, the President “brought much of the Bishop’s inputs into the statements she made in front of these prestigious international bodies”.

Dr. Manuel Dayrit—a member of Couples for Christ—became the Archbishop-and-President’s Secretary of Health in 2001. In the next few years, Dr. Dayrit created the legal basis and structures for overly expanding natural family planning (NFP) and entwining it with Catholic doctrine. He set an ambitious “mainstreaming” target—unmet up to now—to raise NFP use to 20%; created a National Natural Family Planning Committee with a Couples for Christ doctor as Chairperson and with a representative of the CBCP Family Life specified as a member; and separated NFP from the national family planning program to let the government “work more closely with groups and partners that want to promote NFP exclusively”. He even tried to ban the IUD for being an “abortifacient” but was foiled by protests done by women’s and doctors’ groups.

And what was the Archbishop’s inputs to Arroyo’s statement at the UN? The full speech was 10 paragraphs long, but these two about funding NFP exclusively in the name of Catholicism, and belittling the value of artificial contraceptives are proclamations the Archbishop would surely be proud of:

… We expect the United Nations to be sensitive to the deep Catholicism of the vast majority of the Filipino people. The funding given by the United Nations to our national Government for reproductive health will be dedicated to training married couples in a natural family planning technology which the World Health Organization has found effective compared with artificial contraceptives.
The Population Council of New York has found that artificial contraception contributes only 2 per cent to the decline of birth rates, while the combination of improving the economic condition of the family, urbanization and breastfeeding contributes 98 per cent. Thus we ask the United Nations and donor countries to direct their assistance towards the improvement of family productivity and income.

Both are based on lies, or lapses in judgment if your prefer the colorful language of the powerful who when caught are always absolutely sorry about absolutely nothing prosecutable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) rates most artificial methods as more effective than fertility awareness methods. Moreover, limiting people to a method not of their own choosing—whether pills, NFP or whatever—will do nothing but cut sharply its effectiveness and violate fundamental human rights which the WHO promotes.

As for the Population Council, here’s what they said in an article entitled Family Planning Programs Remarkably Successful: “Decades of research show that comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services lead to sharp rises in contraceptive use that help women avoid unintended pregnancies. Over a 30-year period (1960–90), fertility declined in the developing world from more than six to fewer than four births per woman, and almost half of that decline—43 percent—is attributable to family planning programs.”

What’s the Catch?

The Population Council’s 43% became 2% at the UN speech, a remarkable manipulation of numbers to suit one’s needs. Audacious but nothing new. Just a few months earlier, Arroyo was heard in a wiretapped conversation with Comelec Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano asking for a lead of one million votes while counting was still going on for the presidential election of 2004.

The Garci scandal and Arroyo’s no holds barred battle to cling to power set the stage for the Archbishop’s birthday gift in March 2006. The scandal erupted nine months earlier in June 2005. Despite widespread protests and calls for Arroyo to resign, the CBCP merely asked for an independent “Truth Commission”. The protests continued and on February 24, 2006, two weeks before the Archbishop’s birthday, Arroyo declared a State of Emergency to quell a supposed coup attempt against her.

The tottering Arroyo needed the bishops to survive. She bought them with various currencies, from religion-inspired policies to the glittering currency of legal gambling. To their historic ignominy, majority of Catholic bishops granted her wish.

Something died during those trying times of Arroyo’s decadent rule. Some may call it the moral authority of Church leaders. Or the principle that the end never justifies the means. Or maybe just plain honesty, fair play and decency. Whatever you call it, something is dead and rotting. And the stench is inevitably escaping.

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Ever wanted to join fellow Freethinkers in their public endeavors, but was stuck at home/work/another province/another country/some far-flung fascist galaxy?

Well, fret no more! Tomorrow, SATURDAY, MARCH 19, starting 830 AM, we will be holding our PIONEER PICKETCAST, FF’s very first foray into online, live-streaming activism!

The demonstration featured tomorrow will be at the Ayala Alabang Village, where there will be a hearing on the infamous ordinance banning the sale of contraceptives in the village without a doctor’s prescription. This ordinance has been an unsettling example of the anti-RH contingent’s efforts to suppress the basic human right of reproductive health in the name of skewed logic and self-righteousness.

The Filipino Freethinkers will be there to staunchly support the pro-RH contingent, and if you can’t join in in person, you can still participate through the picketcast!

Simply log on to starting 830 tomorrow, watch the embedded livestream, and COMMENT or TWEET your protest messages to us! We’ll write the best ones down on our whiteboards to show the crowd. Total awesomeness.

Our Twitter account is

We look forward to your messages tomorrow! 😀

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The Filipino Freethinkers Perform at the Women’s Day March for RH

UPDATE: Watch the video of the performance here.

On the morning of the 100th Annual International Women’s Day, the Filipino Freethinkers were busy making blood. They needed several batches of the stuff for  the Women’s Day March for RH that afternoon, where they would hold a special performance demonstrating the Catholic Church’s sins against women.

There were 22 bags of the stuff all in all, enough for a bloody good show. But what exactly were they for?

As 3 PM neared, the Freethinkers proceeded to the St. Peter Parish along Commonwealth Ave., where a group of supporters had started to assemble, and band Pinikpikan was keeping everyone stoked.

Soon enough, over a thousand demonstrators from various groups, who had assembled earlier at the Commission for Human Rights, marched in, chanting fervently for the passage of the RH Bill.

A new chant was then introduced to the crowd: “Tama na! ‘Di dapat makialam ang pari sa aming mga ari!” (“We’ve had enough! The priests have no right to meddle with our private parts!”)

At 3 PM, out came FF members Kenneth and Edgar, who were dressed as a bishop and his congressman-on-a-leash, respectively. Kenneth represented the CBCP, whose deceptive, anti-RH stance has been an utter detriment to the country, while Edgar represented the politicos who pander to these powerful bishops and actively delay the passage of the Bill itself.

The performance began with the bishop and congressman bullying five women around, only to have one of these women, played by FF member Margie, vehemently refuse to cooperate.

The four other women–played by FF members JM and Tania, and FF allies Tin from the Pink Rockers and Eliza from the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health–followed suit.

Margie then rebuked the bishop by listing down the Catholic Church’s many wrongdoings against women all over the world, from the outright lies it has been spreading about contraceptives, to its priests’ habit of raping nuns to avoid STDs. These sins were interspersed with cries of outrage from the crowd: “Tama na! ‘Di dapat makialam ang pari sa aming mga ari!”

The bishop then went into a tirade, spouting off even more lies about reproductive health…

…while his congressman-mongrel snapped at everything in sight.

One by one, as the bishop went on, the women started bleeding from their bellies. The blood packs from earlier were finally put to use!

First was JM…

…followed by Tania, then Tin…

…then Eliza…

…and finally, Margie.

The bishop and his mutt looked over the corpses in triumph. These women’s deaths represented the 11 deaths that occur day after day due to maternal complications, and which will continue to occur if the CBCP and the anti-RH politicians continue to throw their weight around irresponsibly.

To end the show, a few strong words on the plight of women and the need to uphold their rights were aired.

Headed by the FF performers, the entire group of demonstrators then proceeded to the Batasang Pambansa, where RH proponents were pushing for the Bill’s passage at the lower chamber’s plenary that same day.

The group soon arrived in front of Batasan and settled into their respective groups.

A very varied mix of supporters came from all over–FF’s fellow groups under the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), labor groups, youth groups, artists, musicians, educators, etc. By the end of that day, there would be over 7,000 supporters in attendance.

There were several supporters from overseas as well, such as Ida and Caroline, who hailed from Sweden.

There were many personalities who graced the stage that day, including Carlos Celdran, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel (pictured), and Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.

Rep. Bello delivered particularly thrilling news: despite anti-RH House members stalling the RH Bill’s deliberations for two whole hours, the deliberations still managed to push through!

As the night went on, more rousing speeches were given. FF President Red Tani was one of several group heads who went onstage to relay messages from fellow proponents.

The event also featured several musical performances, including sets from Aiza Seguerra, Nars Cabico, Bayang Barrios, Cookie Chua, and Imago.

It was an awesome day for reproductive health, and for women all over the world. It was also a landmark event for the Freethinkers; this rally was one of the biggest events they had attended thus far, and it was a thrill for them to work alongside so many passionate people for the very same cause.

(Photos courtesy of Jeiel Aranal)

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Virgin Fathers or Dying Mothers: The Filipino Freethinkers Join Fellow RH Supporters in Silent Protest Against CBCP

Last Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, the Filipino Freethinkers and fellow pro-Reproductive Health (RH) groups under the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) held the Memorial March for Mothers from Padre Burgos St. to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The march and its succeeding mass action at the CBCP gates aimed to call the Catholic Church’s attention to the 11 Filipino women who die each day due to maternal complications. These complications could have been avoided with proper sex education and reproductive health services, but these rights continue to be suppressed thanks to the CBCP’s condemnation of the RH Bill and its efforts to delay the Bill’s passage.

With over 1,000 supporters in attendance, last Sunday was purported to be the largest protest in Philippine history against the CBCP.

The supporters first assembled at the Cory and Ninoy monument across from the Manila Hotel. White shirts and purple scarves served as the day’s official garb. Stickers bearing the slogan “11 Women Die Everyday. Do Bishops Care?” were also passed around.

People from all walks of life were present: women’s groups, youth groups, health advocates, representatives from the academe…

…and these random hipsters. The FF contingent was composed of over 30 members, including several newcomers like visual artist Jooley (extreme right).

Arm (left), who has contributed several engaging articles on reproductive health and women’s rights on the FF website, was also present.

The Freethinkers’ main responsibility was to document the entire march. Dustin, for instance, was in charge of filming the supporters at the head of the line. Various news outfits, including Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, were also present to cover the event.

Representatives of RHAN’s sundry groups gave rousing speeches prior to the march, including Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines…

…and FF President Red Tani, who spoke about human rights and reproductive health in relation to the Vatican’s recent admission that priests from at least 23 countries (the Philippines included) have been sexually abusing nuns, with African priests, in particular, choosing nuns in order to avoid contracting the AIDS virus.

The march then commenced, with Mina Tenorio of Artists for RH Bill heading the pack, carrying a funeral bouquet and photograph of Olivia, just one of the countless casualties of the RH Bill delay. Olivia died quite young after giving birth to her tenth child, and her brood continues to be mired in poverty.

Representing FF at the head of the line were Red and Kenneth, who were also very active in the planning and organization of the event itself. Their bromance apparently knew no bounds.

The FF contingent marched right along.

Soon enough, the supporters approached the entrance of Intramuros, Manila’s famed walled city and home of several bastions of Catholicism in the country, including the CBCP headquarters, the Manila Cathedral, and the San Agustin Church.

The group stayed silent throughout, while an accompanying vehicle played Levi Celerio’s hymn to motherhood, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.”

The group passed several Intramuros landmarks, including…

…the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus-Philippines, a Catholic fraternal service organization that is quite vocal in its stance against the RH Bill…

…and the San Agustin Church, the oldest surviving church in the Philippines.

When the group arrived at the CBCP headquarters, 11 women clad in black, representing the said 11 women who die each day, positioned themselves directly across the gates.

A few minutes after, a car from inside the headquarters rolled out. The persons inside could not be discerned through its tinted windows. Silently, the protesters allowed the car to pass.

No representative from the CBCP arrived to address the protest, although a security personnel kept watch behind the gates.

Ms. Tenorio then read out the group’s open letter to the CBCP, dictating to the silent compound within the fact that daily deaths occur due to the Church’s meddling, and the group’s desire for the CBCP officials to acknowledge the harrowing truth before them.

The group listened quietly to the message. A copy of this letter was then handed to the security personnel.

Afterwards, the women in black had their candles lit. Each flame represented a mother’s life.

The women then placed their candles at the foot of the gates.

And then, silently and in unison, the protesters lay down on the ground in a massive “die-in,” as if to portray the thousands of Filipino women who die year and in year out, and to show their own unwavering support for the RH Bill.

The “die-in” stretched all the way down several blocks.

No one had any qualms curling up on the asphalt.

Everything was still for several whole minutes.

Finally, a signal was given, and the crowd got back on their feet. They then proceeded back to the entrance of Intramuros as silently as they had arrived.

Left behind at the gates were the bouquet, the photograph, and the 11 candles, their flames bound to flicker out by the end of that day.

It was a peaceful protest from start to finish, and the participants dispersed in good spirits. RHAN and its supporters have quite stirringly expressed the truth to the Church, and it is now up to the men behind the gates to respond and do what is right.

(Photos courtesy of Jason Arlan Pilaza Raval, Beatriz Torre, Frank Manuel, and Marguerite de Leon)

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Anti-RH Lies About The RH Bill

A few hours ago, outside the Manila Cathedral, pro-life activists gave out a couple of leaflets attacking the RH Bill. They are attached below for your enjoyment/irritation; click to view in all their falsehood.

For the benefit of our non-Filipino readers, we’ve taken the liberty of translating a few sections:

The RH Bill No. 96 of Congressman Lagman and any version of it is the road that leads straight to DEATH!

2. What is the Reproductive Health Bill 96?
a. The use of contraception (abortifacients – condoms, pills, IUDs, etc.) endangers the health of mothers and children. This results in:

  • Cancer
  • causes heart attacks and stroke
  • the mother and newborn child will have disabilities and health problems like psychological disorders of the mother and abnormalities in the child.

The spread of AIDS – according to the strongest universal evidence, widespread condom usage leads to the increased spreading of AIDS due to complacence as regards to the dangers of negligent intercourse.

Why is there the desire to pass the RH-Bill?
Capitalists who benefit from the producing and distributing of contraceptives use money and dirty politics.

It is just this sort of misinformation the poor are subject to every day, and when the Church itself preaches this to their flock they are sadly compelled to believe.

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Anti-RH Bill Catholics Harass RH Bill Supporters

[UPDATE] For more comprehensive video coverage of the event, as well as clarifications on some damage control by the Pro-Life side, read this.

The Filipino Freethinkers and the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines went to the Manila Cathedral where an anti-RH bill discernment mass was supposed to be held. Representatives from these two organizations wanted to hear the reasons that would be given in the lecture as to why the CBCP was against the RH bill.

Unfortunately, they were denied entry from the chapel for wearing Damaso-printed shirts, which these organizations have worn to express their disagreement with the CBCP’s position. However, they were told that the organizers would consider letting them inside after the ongoing mass ends.

Afterbeing denied entry to the Manila Cathedral, the RH Bill supporters decided to wait outside the church for the mass to end. Several pro-life supporters handed FF and DSWP members Anti-RH Bill leaflets which had misleading information, including the claim that condoms caused cancer.

After a few minutes , a group of anti-RH Bill Catholics, led by Pro-Life Philippines president Eric B. Manalang confronted the RH Bill supporters and told them that their presence was not welcome. Several members of both the Filipino Frethinkers and the DSWP attempted to reason with these people, explaining how some of them were also Catholic and simply wanted to hear why the RH Bill was considered “evil.”

Lorna Ferrer, a member of the DSWP, told Mr. Manalang that she was Catholic. Mr. Manalang responded with, “You are not a real Catholic! You are an oxymoron!” — implying that Catholics who use or support any form of artificial contraception could not possibly be “real” Catholics.

Other members from both organizations attempted to calm down Mr. Manalang and company, but these pleas fell on deaf ears as the harassment escalated and the RH supporters were attacked with harsh words and mild violence.

Here are just some of the statements hurled at members of the Filipino Freethinkers and the DSWP by Manalang and company:

“This is our territory. Get out of here!”
“Damaso is a fake. You’re a fake! You are the Damaso!”
“Get out of here, Satan!”
“You should tell your mother that she should have aborted you!”

There is video footage of Mr. Manalang and company pushing several supporters and trying to take away cameras from two members of the group. Police officers intervened and escorted the FF and the DSWP away from the premises of the cathedral for the safety of these RH supporters.

As the organizations walked away, Pro-Life advocates continued the barragewith “Get out of here, Satan!” “Away, Satan, away!”

Meanwhile, the anti-RH reflection service was going on inside. One of the speakers, Dra. Angie Aguirre, asked the churchgoers inside: How many have read the actual text of the RH Bill? Less than ten percent raised their hands.

Update: In place of what’s actually in the RH Bill, these are the lies the Church teaches its flock about the RH Bill.

Update: Anti-RH supporters handed out invitations to the anti-RH service outside the Manila Cathedral, even to people visibly wearing DAMASO shirts. Click to view the invitation.

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