• Brian U. Doce Philippine International Studies Organization


Being a traditionally religious country, the role of religion in Philippine politics is quite neglected as scholars are used to frame religious actors based on either interest group politics or theological interpretations. This paper employs a new approach called public theology. Using the Reproductive Health Debate from 2010 – 1012 as a case to analyze, the public theology approach fleshes out a marginalized religious sector who became influential in reshaping the religiopolitical discourse about the morality of a politician voting in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill. This marginalized sector, the progressive religious leaders both from Catholic and Protestant, tradition is influential for providing an alternative moral criterion which served as an opportunity for the President and Congress members to defy the moral and political threat posed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Keywords: religion, public theology, Phillippines, reproductive health, progressive school, Christianity


Abellanosa Rhoderick John, Discursive Detours and Weak Gatekeeping: The Deficit of the Philippine Bishops’ Church of the Poor Discourse, Political Theology, Vol. XVI, No. 3, 2015.

Abellanosa Rhoderick John, The CBCP and Philippine Politics: 2005 and After, Asia Pacific Social Science Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2008.

Ager Maila, Senate votes 13-8 for RH Bill on final reading, Inquirer, 17 December 2012, (accessed 01.12.2017).

Bernas Joaquin, A war of religions, Inquirer, 2 May 2011, (accessed 01.12.2017).

Bernas Joaquin, Bishops at war, Inquirer, 26 August 2012, (accessed 01.12.2017).

Bernas Joaquin, Bishops in dialogue, Inquirer, 17 September 2012, (accessed 01.12.2017).

Bernas Joaquin, Don’t burn the house to roast a pig, Inquirer, 6 August 2012,

Bernas Joaquin, My stand on RH Bill, Inquirer, 23 May 2011, (accessed 12.30.2016).

Bernas Joaquin, Once more, the RH Bill, Inquirer, 3 December 2012, (accessed


Bernas Joaquin, When is family planning anti life?, Inquirer, 26 September 2011, (accessed 12.30.2016).

Buckley David, Demanding the Divine? Exploring Cross Natinal Support for Clerical Control of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2016.

Cartagenas Aloysius, Religion and Politics in the Philippines: The Public Role of the Roman Catholic Church in the Democratization of the Filipino Polity, Political Theology, Vol. 11, No. 6, 2010.

Chiu Patricia, After narrow House vote, Aquino certifies RH bill as urgent, GMA News Online, 14 December 2012, 12.30.2016).

Cornelio Jayeel Serrano, Religion and civic engagement: the case of the Iglesia ni Cristo in the Philippines, Religion, State and Society, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2017.

Dalangin-Fernandez Lira, 6-million-strong Iglesia supports RH Bill, Interaksyon, 25 April 2011, (accessed 12.30.2016).

Dionisio Eleanor, On the sweet insidiousness of dialogue, Inquirer, 11 July 2011, (accessed 12.30.2016).

Dionisio Eleanor, Those who can’t, can teach Natural Family Planning, JJCICSI, 18 April 2011, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Esmaquel III Paterno, Move on, bishops urge critics of RH Law, Rappler, 8 April 2014, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Flores Helen, Council of Churches pushes passage of RH Bill, Philippine Star, 6 December 2010, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Genato-Rebullida Maria Lourdes, Reconceptualizing Development: The View from Philippine Churches, Philippine Political Science Journal, Vol. 17, No. 33-36, 1992.

GMA News Online, RH Bill: The Grand Debate, GMA News Online, 2011, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Gorospe-Jamon Grace, The El Shaddai Prayer Movement: Political Socialization in a Religious Context, Philippine Political Science Journal, Vol. 20, Issue 43, 1999.

Haynes Jeffrey, An Introduction to International Relations and Religion, Second Edition, Routledge, New York, 2013.

Heywood Andrew, Global Politics, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2011.

IPPRP, Affirming a life of dignity, Philippine Star, 2012 September 27, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Jevtic Miroljub, Political Science and Religion, Politics and Religion Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2007.

Kessler Christl, Rüland Jürgen, Responses to Rapid Social Change: Populist Religion in the Philippines, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 79, No. 1, 2006.

Luz, F, Aragon-Choudhoury P, Looking Beyond the Debate: Finding Common Grounds Towards Quality of Life, Filipino Catholic Voices for Reproductive Health, Inc. (C4RH), 2015, Quezon City.

Malig Jojo, Philippines still divided on reproducitve health bill, ABS CBN News, 9 May 2011, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Martin James, Listening to the Pope, America Magazine, 2013, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Philippine Star, FULL TEXT: Aquino’s speech in the presence of Pope Francis at Malacañang, Philippine Star, 16 January 2015, (accessed 01.14.2017).

Rappler, How solons voted on the final reading of RH Bill, Rappler, 17 December 2012, (accessed 08.11.2018).

Sandal Nukhet, The Clash of Public Theologies?: Rethinking the Concept of Religion in Global Politics, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol. 37, No. 66, 2012.

Santos Eimor, Religion: The Missing Beat in Philippine Media, Asia Pacific Media Educator, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2013.

Shea Gail et al, Catholic Parish Priests and Birth Control: A Comparative Study of Opinion in Colombia, the United States and the Netherlands, Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 2, No. 6, 1971.

Tabora Joel, CEAP, PH Bishops and the RH Bill, TaboraSJ, 2012, (accessed 08.11.2018).

Tabora Joel, Conscience and Vote Conscience, TaboraSJ, 7 March 2013, Retrieved January 12, 2017, from (accessed 01.12.2017).

Tabora Joel, Space to Discuss Contentious Issues, TaboraSJ, 23 January 2013,

Tabora Joel, Team Buhay Team Patay: Unconscionable, TaboraSJ, 4 February 2013, (accessed 08.11.2018).

Teehankee Julio, The study of politics in Southeast Asia: the Philippines in Southeast Asian political studies, Philippine Political Science Journal, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2014.

Thomas Scott, The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty First Century, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2005.

Villegas Socrates, Contraception is Corruption! A CBCP Pastoral Letter on the Latest Decision on the Reproductive Health Bill, CBCP Online, 15 December 2012, (accessed 08.11.2018).

World Council of Churches, Statement of World Council of Churches at the UN World Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, World Council of Churches, 1994, (accessed 08.11.2018).

Youngblood Robert, Structural Imperialism: An Analysis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 1, 1982.