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The Philippine's Reproductive Health Bill Must Pass

n September 30th, Catholic Bishop Nereo Odchimar issued a threat to President Noynoy Aquino that the church could excommunicate him if he continues Carlos Celdran holds up a sign with the words "DAMASO" during mass at the Manila Cathedralto support the Reproductive Health (RH) bill currently pending in Congress. The church's constant meddling in Philippine politics prompted well-known tourist guide, Carlos Celdran to dress the part of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, walk towards the altar of the Manila Cathedral, and hold up a sign that read "DAMASO," (a reference to a character in Rizal's novel; an evil Spanish friar).

Article II, Section 6, of the Philippine Constitution clearly states that "The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable." In other words the Constitution states—in no uncertain terms—that the Church must always be a totally separate entity from the State.

In another section of the Constitution, Article VI, Section 28, paragraph 3, states in part that "...churches...shall be exempt from taxation." Out in force, the Catholic clergy celebrates high Mass and pulls out all the stops against the Reproductive Health BillThe State, in essence bestows a tax-exempt status on the Catholic Church because of all the good it does for the country.

But what happens when the church oversteps its bounds and directly involves itself in Philippine politics? The Catholic church is currently trying to kill the Reproductive Health Bill by dangling the threat of excommunication over the heads of legislators, including the President himself. Has the Church not violated its covenant with the State and as such, ceases to be a purely religious organization and instead morphs into a quasi-political one? If so, then it is no longer a "Church" and no longer deserving of its tax-exempt status.

Over the decades it has become increasingly clear that the government has become increasingly burdened by its exploding population. So much so that the Philippines today is but a pale shadow of what it once was. TheCarlos Celdran poses defiantly in his "Jose Rizal" outfit while awaiting bail at the Manila City Jail infrastructure of most Philippine cites is groaning under the weight of a population that is multiples of what it was designed for. And any step forward that improvements in farming have brought have been negated by the two or three steps backward because the ever-increasing demand continues to outstrip the increased supply. 

The "Go forth and multiply" credo of the Catholic Church served it well in centuries past when the earth's population was small and all manner of resources were in abundance. Today, the entire planet is in peril, and the Philippines in particular is rapidly slipping into the status of a third-world state. Most of its urban poor live in shanties that have no running water or toilets. Unless drastic population control measures are put in place, the Philippines as we know it will soon cease to exist.

In the final analysis, the hierarchy that runs the Catholic Church in the Philippines takes its marching orders only from the Vatican and does not seem to have the welfare of the country at heart. As they did during the time of the Inquisition, they are again rattling their sabers and threatening eternal damnation to anyone who questions their authority; but those Dark Ages are long gone. The Catholic Church must now be called out and put in its place. The country's exploding population is too serious a matter to be left to the superstitious ramblings of a reality-challenged Catholic Clergy.

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