THERE is no stopping the Church’s campaign questioning the legality of the Reproductive Health Law after the Supreme Court slammed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for prohibiting the Church from putting up banners and slogans against pro-RH lawmakers.
With a vote of 9 against 5, the High Court on Wednesday ruled that the Comelec notice dated February 22, 2013, which prohibited the Archdiocese of Bacolod to put up slogans against the pro-RH senatoriables is unconstitutional.
The ruling effectively granted the petition filed by the Archdiocese of Bacolod that campaigned against the RH law and asked the faithful not to vote for the senatoriables responsible for the law’s passage.
“The Comelec has no power to regulate the free expression of private citizens, who are neither candidates nor members of political parties,” the SC said.
It noted that the Comelec’s action violated the petitioners’ right to free speech and expression.
“The Comelec’s action, directing petitioners to remove the tarpaulins on their own property, also violated petitioners’ right to property,” the SC said.
It added that “the content of the tarpaulin is not religious speech, even if it is written or has been caused to be written by petitioner Bishop.”
The High Court also made permanent the temporary restraining order it earlier issued against the Comelec.
The Catholic Church vehemently opposed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012.
In the tarpaulin, seven senatorial candidates were tagged as members of “Team Patay” for having voted for the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. They are Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Juan Edgardo Angara, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.
Also dubbed as “Team Patay” are party-list groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis.
On the other hand, the six senatorial candidates who were tagged as members of “Team Buhay” for having opposed the RH Law are Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and Cynthia Villar.