MANILA, MARCH 18, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) By Christian Cardiente - The implementing rules of the Reproductive Health Law has been approved and will take effect on Easter Sunday, but several Catholic priests are breaching the sacramental seal in their attempt to revive their campaign against it, a Bicol lawmaker said Sunday.

The pro-RH advocates will embark next week on a nationwide campaign, “Purple Vote,” to encourage voters to choose the pro-RH candidates during the May election, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said.

He said some Catholic priests would even venture into violating the centuries-old “sacramental seal of confession” to revive a lost campaign against the Reproductive Health Law or Republic Act 10354.

Lagman, the principal author of the controversial RH Law, warned that the sacramental seal is inviolable.

“The maximum penalty for its violation is excommunication according to Canon Law,” Lagman said.

He issued his reminder after Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, announced that “many priests had noticed a general trend among young Catholics to seek forgiveness through confession for using artificial contraceptives.”

“Thanks, but no thanks for attributing to my RH advocacy the general trend of young people confessing their ‘sin’ of using artificial contraceptives after they had been supposedly ‘reawakened’ by the Church hierarchy’s opposition to the RH bill,” Lagman said.

“This revelation of penitents’ confessions is a blatant violation of the centuries-old Church injunction for confessors not to betray or disclose both the subject of the confession and the identity of the penitents.”

Lagman said the standard of secrecy protecting a confession outweighed any form of professional confidentiality or secrecy.

When a person unburdened his soul and confessed his sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance, a very sacred trust was formed, Lagman said.

“The priest must maintain absolute secrecy about anything that a person confesses,” he said.

“If the priests concerned would make a disavowal of their violation of the secrecy of confession, then Father Castro is again engaging in malevolent propaganda to further demonize the RH law.”

Lagman said the overwhelming majority of Catholics favored the enactment of the RH law that which includes contraception by choice.

“If Catholics believe that using artificial contraceptives is a sin as emphasized by Father Castro, then Catholics in their millions will be trooping to the confessionals to unburden their souls,” he said.

President preaches gospel of sobriety By Dexter A. See | Posted on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 98 views

Fort Del Pilar — President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday exhorted the 124 new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy to be models of sobriety and reason in confronting the challenges they will face as military officers.

“When confronted with small and big problems in your career, place yourselves in the place of those who are aggrieved, those who are willfully abused and those who are living in extreme poverty and you will find the right solution based on your sound evaluation and assessment,” said Mr. Aquino, the guest of honor and speaker at the PMA’s 108th graduation

108th Commencement Exercises. President Benigno Aquino III troops the line with Philippine Military Academy Supt. Lt. Gen. Irineo Espino at Fort Del Pilar during the graduation of the members of PMA Class 2013. At left, the members of Class 2013 throw their hats into the air after graduation.

National and local officials exercising sobriety and reason in decision-making should be admired, Mr. Aquino said.

Jestoni Arman Lanaja, the valedictorian of the Class of 2013, said the officers produced by the PMA should be at the forefront of advancing the cause of internal and regional peace.

Lanaja comes from a poor family in Davao del Sur and, as a child, had sold boiled bananas to help his mother, a housewife, and his father who gathered coconut sap for a living.

“In my younger years I realized that we could be happy as long as we had a house to stay and food to eat,” Lanaja said.

President Aquino cited as a good example of sobriety and reason the formalization of the Bangsa Moro framework agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that underwent a series of responsible and analytical discussions.

He also cited the need for consultations and the use of diplomacy to solve problems such as the crisis in Sabah, which started when the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III intruded there to press his claim to the Malaysian state.

“We must seriously consider the plight of the more than 800,000 Filipino Workers in Malaysia who are now under threat of being sent home as a result of the conflict and the lives and sources of livelihood of the people directly and indirectly involved in the brewing conflict,” Mr. Aquino said.

He accused those behind the Sabah standoff of being conspirators who were working to negate his administration’s significant gains, especially in his drive to eradicate corruption and improve the lives of Filipinos living in the countryside.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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