High Court tackles RH law today

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EMOTIONS will be high when the proponents and opponents of the controversial Reproductive Health law face off today at the Supreme Court (SC).

Former senators Aquilino Pimentel and Franciso Tatad are expected to spar when they present their stand on Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

In an advisory signed by SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal, Tatad will be given five minutes for his opening statement.

Pimentel will have 10 minutes to discuss whether or not RA 10354 violates the autonomy of local governments and the equal protection clause” of the 1987 Constitution, while Luis Ma. Gil Gana will argue whether or not the law violates the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Maria Concepcion Noche will tell the High Court if she believes that the law violates the “right to life” provision of the Constitution, particularly the right to life of the mother and her unborn child from conception, and the right to health of the people.

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Impleaded in the petitions are Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

If the oral arguments will not be finished today, the High Court will hold another session on July 23.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) chairman Bishop Gabriel Reyes said they will attend the arguments as observers.

He said that they prayed for the lawyers who will be participating in the proceedings.

CBCP incoming President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said “some bishops and priests will be at the Supreme Court not as a lobby group but as moral leaders. Church men are not to be social troublemakers, we are conscience trouble makers,” he said.

He said that a Mass and prayer vigil is scheduled at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia in M.H. del Pilar Street, Ermita, Manila at 9 a.m. today (Tuesday).

“There will be a prayer vigil and a Mass will be offered because we believe in the Church that the Mass can change the entire cosmos . . . if it can change the entire cosmos, I’m sure it can teach many consciences as well,” Villegas said. Other pro-life groups are also set to hold a vigil outside the SC during the oral arguments.

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