By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 04:59:00 03/28/2011
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Seven barangay councils in Balanga City in Bataan province have enacted ordinances similar to the controversial Ayala Alabang ordinance that bans the sale of contraceptives in its locality without a doctor’s prescription.
The local law allows only the Catholic Church-sanctioned natural family planning methods to be discussed in village health centers.
Barangays Puerto Rivas Lote, Puerto Rivas Ibaba, Puerto Rivas Itaas, Cupang Proper, Cupang West, Tortugas and Tanato became the first batch of villages in the country to follow the lead of Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City in the Catholic Church-led campaign against House Bill No. 4244, or the proposed Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 (RH bill).
Catholic Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the barangay captains gave copies of the ordinances enacted from March 16 to 25 to Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia III before the closing of an anti-RH bill rally attended by some 10,000 people in Balanga City on Saturday night.
“We signed a covenant where we promised to protect the lives of our constituents—including the unborn,” Tortugas Barangay chairman Victor Baluyot said by telephone on Sunday.
Santos said he was happy that village leaders made “prol-ife ordinances.”
“These reveal the unity and harmony between the church and government and we are working hard for the protection of life,” he said.
Result of forum
Asked why the village councils passed ordinances that were almost a replica of the Ayala Alabang ordinance, Santos said that might have been the result of a forum he organized on the request of barangay leaders where the lecturers were from the Ayala Alabang council.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is campaigning hard against the RH bill which is currently being discussed in Congress. The CBCP on its website encourages village officials to “defend their positions against the RH bill by enacting ordinances that would protect the sanctity of life, especially of the unborn.”
Fear of extinction
“Kinopya po namin (We copied the Ayala Alabang ordinance),” Puerto Rivas Ibaba Barangay Captain Manny Bustamante said by telephone.
“Ayaw po naman namin na lumiit o mawala ang susunod na henerasyon sa aming barrio (We don’t want the population in our village to shrink or be gone),” Bustamante said. His village has almost 5,000 residents.
The city government is expected to deliberate on the controversial ordinance.
Earlier, the Muntinlupa City Council put the Ayala Alabang ordinance on hold and remanded it back to the barangay, reminding village officials to brush up on human rights laws.
“The right of any individual to access contraceptives and family planning methods deemed illegal in the barangay ordinance, yet allowed by the Department of Health, may constitute a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution,” the city council had said in its letter to the barangay.
Catholic educator and constitutional legal expert, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J., denounced the ordinance as likely unconstitutional, adding that it was a crude “attempt by a sector of the Catholic Church to instrumentalize the power of the state to impose Catholic belief on all others.” With reports from Elmer Kristian Dauigoy, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Romulo O. Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzona