[#AwaNgDiyosPH] Garin as health secretary ‘big slap’ on Church, says bishop



LIPA CITY (The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com)–Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles slammed President Benigno Aquino’s decision to appoint Janette Garin as permanent health secretary, branding it as a “slap not only to the Pope but to the Catholic Church.”

The bishop issued the statement at the height of Pope Francis’ week-long apostolic visit to the Philippines, whose message centers on mercy and compassion.

Arguelles said in an interview “he is not in favor” of Garin’s appointment given her previously pro-reproductive health law stance when she was still Iloilo congresswoman.

Permanently-appointed Health Secretary Janette Garin (photo from her Facebook account)

Permanently-appointed Health Secretary Janette Garin (photo from her Facebook account)

“They would be welcoming the pope but then clearly, Garin’s appointment is a big slap on the face of the pope and Catholics as she has been promoting policies against the Catholic Church,” Arguelles told The Filipino Connection / Philstar.com.

It is to note that all Cabinet secretaries have to seek the approval of the Commission on Appointments, currently chaired by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“A health secretary must promote, not oppose life,” the bishop added while reminding Garin of the doctor’s “Hippocratic oath” –to preserve, not kill life.

“The least we could expect from her and even from other department secretaries is to promote the common good of the Filipino people, not of the foreigners –not to the extent of sacrificing the poor,” Arguelles, a known anti-RH advocate, said.

The Catholic Church has consistently opposed the Philippines’ Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (popularly known as Reproductive Health Law); the Church hierarchy thinks the “RH Law” promotes abortion through artificial contraception which, in effect, kills the unborn baby in the mother’s womb.

The pro-RH advocates say otherwise given the view that conception starts at fertilization.

President Aquino signed the RH Law on December 21, 2012 but it only took effect on April 8, 2014 following a series of legal battles that went all the way to the Supreme Court, who later declared some provisions of the law as “not unconstitutional” and some others as “constitutional”.

Pope Francis earlier told the audience of Catholic doctors gathered in Vatican City on Nov. 15, 2014 that playing with life in ways like “abortion” and “euthanasia” is sinful, noting that each human life no matter the condition is sacred.

“Be careful because this is a sin against the Creator, against God the creator,” the Catholic News Agency quoted the Pope as saying.

The Philippines’ RH Law guarantees universal access to reproductive health care and information, which do not prevent the implantation of fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The law  also prioritizes beneficiaries from the poorer households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Earlier on Jan. 9, Aquino announced his plans to designate Garin as permanent health secretary in replacement of resigned Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

The President said he expects Garin’s appointment to be formalized after Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines.

Garin has served as acting health secretary after then Ona took a leave of absence while being investigated for his department’s questionable vaccine procurement in 2012.

Ona later resigned after extending his leave of absence.–The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com



The Filipino Connection covers the visit of Pope Francis in partnership with Philstar.com.



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