Amending RH bill will take 'til kingdom come'
MANILA, Philippines - Two days into the resumption of sessions and the House of Representatives still has not provided any clear indication on when the Reproductive Health Bill (RH) will be discussed on the floor and put to a vote.
This despite House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr's earlier appeal to RH bill critics to stop delaying the process.
With only 20 session days left before the House goes on recess again for the Christmas holidays on December 21, a group of pro-RH female lawmakers dubbed as "The Soul Sisters" on Tuesday, November 6, called on the House to put the amended bill on the agenda.
Formed last year, the group consists of Representatives Emmeline Aglipay (DIWA Party-list), Kimi Cojuangco (Pangasinan), Abigail Ferriol (Kalinga party-list), Sharon Garin (AMBIS-Owa party-list), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), Josephine Lacson-Noel (Malabon), and Rosenda Ann Ocampo (Manila).
'Til kingdom come
But anti-RH lawmakers insist that the bill should go back to committee level.
Cagayan Rep Rufus Rodriguez, one of the opponents of the bill, reiterated his stance that the substitute bill should once again be discussed in the committee as the rules state that a bill can only be altered for typographical errors.
"If you want amendments, line by line dapat pero 'til kingdom come 'yan kaya wala nang time (If you want amendments, it should be line by line but that will be 'til kingdom come that's why there's no more time)," Rodriguez told House reporters.
After the Christmas break, sessions will resume for 3 weeks on January 21 until legislators go on break again for the campaign period for the May 2013 elections. They will only go back on June 3 to officially close the 15th Congress.
Prior to the the distribitution of the substitute bill, proponents of the bill introduced a first batch of amendments, which deleted the provision on "Ideal Family Size."
The second batch of amendments to the substitute bill mandates "public access" to “medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable and effective” reproductive health care services and supplies "which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum" as determined by the Food and Drug Administration.
It also moved the focus of the bill to target poorer households, as determined by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.
The amendments were the product of consultations with an informal Technical Working Group, composed of proponents and opponents of the controversial measure, that was formed to expedite the process. - Rappler.com