14 Ateneo professors: ‘RH bill adheres to Catholic teaching’

I do not know why my friends and fellow professors at the Ateneo did not solicit my signature in this statement, but I sure agree with them on this note. It shows that dissent — and the light of reason — exists even when the official statement and the statsus quo say just to follow the Catholic teaching, blindly if need be. — Danton Remoto


BY Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 10/16/2008 4:45 PM

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.”

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said.

Theology department, too

The faculty members came from various departments of Ateneo. One of them belongs to the Department of Theology. They stressed that they are only speaking for themselves and not for the University.

Their position paper came out after the results of Social Weather Station’s poll on public support for the reproductive health bill were released. It showed that 68 percent—7 in every 10 Filipinos—want a law on contraceptives.

The following are the signatories:
1. Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
2. Raymond Aguas (Department of Theology)
3. Liane Pena Alampay (Department of Psychology)
4. Fernando Aldaba (Department of Economics)
5. Remmon Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
6. Manuel Dy Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
7. Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
8. Roberto Guevara (Department of Theology)
9. Anne Marie Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
10. Michael Liberatore (Department of Theology)
11. Liza Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
12. Cristina Jayme Montiel (Deparment of Psychology)
13. Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
14. Agustin Martin Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)

‘Pro-poor, pro-Life, pro-Women’

In saying that the “Scripture teaches us that God has a special concern for the poor and vulnerable,” the faculty members stress the provisions of the reproductive health bill that are “explicitly pro-poor.”

Section 11 of the proposed bill mandates congressional districts to acquire, operate, and maintain “a van to be known as the Mobile Health Care Services” to deliver reproductive health care services to the poor and needy.

The poor’s lack of access to health services is blamed for the poor maternal and child health situation in the Philippines.

· 10 women die every 24 hours from almost entirely preventable cases of related to pregnancy and childbirth.
· 6 out of 10 women deliver at home, where they rarely have access to a skilled birth attendant.
· 24 out of 1,000 babies under one year old die every year.

The paper also stressed the importance of planning the family. “There is no question that poverty in the Philippines is exacerbated by our rapid population growth,” the paper said.

It cited studies showing that women in the lowest quintile, who usually bear an average of six children, have at least two children more than their ideal number (3.5). They noted that the increase in family size also means a decrease in per capita income, a decrease in per capita savings, and a decrease in per capita expenditure on education and health.

This will be prevented if Filipinos are familiar with the family planning methods, they said. “The inability of women in the poorest quintile to achieve the number of children they want stems from their high unmet need for family planning,” the paper said.

It will also prevent abortion, they said.

Based on 2000 statistics, there were about half million recorded abortion cases—or 27 abortions per 1,000 women. According to the position paper, this is because “abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.”

Earlier, 27 professors from the University of the Philippines economics department issued a statement, backed by research, supporting the reproductive health bill.



  1. October 21, 2008 at 1:02 am

    I can’t believe Catholics themselves are the one pushing this. Being a Catholic is not only going to mass on Sundays. It’s more of a “lifestyle” which you choose to live adhering to the teachings of the pope and of the Church. Did Raymond Aguas consider what Pope John Paul II said about the culture of death?

    To the catholics who are being told by the RH supporters to not only listen to the Church leaders, it’s very true. You also have to use your own brain cells to exert the effort in learning what is really inside their religion. It doesn’t stop with the homily of the priest every Sunday.

  2. liling magtolis briones said,

    October 21, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    it is refreshing to watch Catholics debating with each other on reproductive health!For a non-Catholic like me, it is quite enlightening to learn more about Catholic theology. I hope the conversations will continue.

  3. idaretothink said,

    October 22, 2008 at 1:15 am

    For more info: http://idaretothink.wordpress.com/

  4. October 30, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I greatly appreciate the 14 Ateneo professors openly supporting the RH Bill plus more professors are coming out to support the RH Bill ( a total of 66, such a good number for a Catholic University! ) probably after CBCP called the attention of the President of the university.

    The university president was right, the 14 professors clearly stated that it does not reflect the stand of the university.

    Even if we belong to a Catholic institution, or that we are a Catholic, it doesn’t always mean that we are in favor (all the time) of whatever the Bishop says. There are even some priest and lay catholics who have different views/opinions on RH, but many of them are just silent about it.

    The same with the Legislators, if only it will be a “close’ or a ballot voting of the RH Bill, it think many of them will vote for the RH Bill.

  5. blue said,

    March 2, 2009 at 7:35 am

    what the ateneo professors did was simply a display of intellectual arrogance and self centered understanding of Catholic morality.they simply misunderstood or playing a gullible that theirs is of better position by citing some teachings of the church.what an irony!!they are blinded by their egoistic and manipulative thinking about Catholic morality.

  6. blue said,

    March 3, 2009 at 4:23 am

    the statement of ateneo (manila) professors regading the rh bill is nothing but a disgraced in terms of understanding the Catholic moral teachings.they used the moral teachings of the church in a distorted/manipulative/whimsical manner.UNITY TO THE MORAL TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH IS THE PROPER RESPONSE TO THE BILL!!=this is the answer!!and enough of your intellectual arrogance.to make things worst they blended some aspects of the moral teachings of the church to some provisions of the bill within fact it runs contrary to the moral teachings of the church.what a shame!!no wonder why in the open statement of some international catholic scholars their errors were clearly pointed out.im just wondering why they came up with this kind of understanding with regards to catholic morality.now lookand see at the effect =the stand of their student leaders to the bill is horrible and a clear manifestation of bankcruptcy of catholic moral teachings in academic setting.

  7. darkprincess said,

    March 9, 2009 at 4:59 am

    I am not really sure if there is a definite right answer to the issue or even a right side to be with. I am definite of one thing, that we should learn to respect each others views, because just like us, having our own views and imperfections, we would also like to be respected and heard.

    Me myself, support the bill.

  8. blue said,

    March 13, 2009 at 2:18 am

    darkprincess@ may I remind you that in terms of moral teachings of the church with respect to the dignity of human life there is a DEFINITE OR SPECIFIC STAND on it=that is GOD is the author of life therefore it is inviolable,that it is sacred from the moment of conception up to its natural death.the stand of the church is always pro life while this health bill is promoting the culure of death.hope this will clarify you pertaining this issue!!

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