MANILA, Philippines - In what is considered a setback in the fast passage of the Reproductive Health bill into law, the bicameral conference committee meeting on the measure will be held Wednesday, December 19. The bill's supporters had wanted to begin it today, Tuesday.
The bicameral conference committee was moved after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto - two of the bill's toughest critics - questioned why it was to be held today, Tuesday, December 18, a day after it was passed by both chambers of Congress.
"Why are we railroading this?" Sotto said. "We can have it tomorrow."
Enrile, on the other hand, said they have time to conduct the meeting by January 2013.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, a sponsor of the RH bill and chair of the bicameral committee, cried foul over this, however, saying that calling for a meeting today falls well within her powers as committee chair.
"I am quite offended. I've never heard of a chair being imposed upon not to call a bicam conference committee," she said.
But Sotto said a bicameral conference committee cannot be held while Congress is in session.
Cayetano castigated Sotto, saying he should not delay the passage of the bill just because he is against it.
"I'm asked why I'm rushing bicam today. My reply: Isn't that my job? To finish my work? Why tomorrow if we can work today," she tweeted.
She agreed to have the bicameral conference committee held on December 19 though under the condition that Enrile will approve her suggested list of members for the bicameral conference.
It was Sen Franklin Drilon who proposed to have a pre-bicameral conference committee instead on December 19.
ACT Teachers party-list group Rep. Antonio Tinio - one of the House members in the bicameral conference committee - tweeted that moving the conference is a "serious countermove."
"Delaying the bicam is actually a serious countermove by the antis. If #RHBill is not ratified tomorrow, House must muster a quorum in Jan.," he tweeted.
The House members in the bicameral conference committee aside from Tinio are RH bill proponent Rep Edcel Lagman, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, Iloilo Rep Janette Garin, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Akbayan party-list group Rep Kaka Bag-ao, Samar Rep Mel Senen Sarmiento, and Batanes Rep Henedina Abad.
Senate members are Senators Pia Cayetano, Sotto, Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Panfilo Lacson, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and Ralph Recto. - Rappler.com