LP, NPC leadership: 'Pass RH bill'
(UPDATE) MANILA, Philippines - At the eleventh hour, the leadership of both the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and key ally Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) have taken a stand to support the passage of the Reproductive Health bill (RH bill).
LP president Manuel Roxas II called LP members in the House of Representatives to a lunch meeting in the LP headquarters on Tuesday, December 11, to announce the party leadership's support for the controversial Reproductive Health bill (RH bill). Budget secretary Butch Abad was also present.
The House is scheduled to put the bill to a vote on Wednesday, December 12.
"Hinikayat ng liderato ng Partido Liberal, kabilang na sina House Speaker Sonny Belmonte at Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, na bumoto at suportahan ng mga kongresista ang panukalang batas na ito (The leadership - among them Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, urged party members to vote in favor of the RH bill), reads an LP statement issued after the meeting.
"Nanindigan ang Liderato ng LP, na huwag talikuran ang Pangulo sa isyu ng RH Bill, at bumoto para maipasa na ito sa mababang kapulungan. (The leadership of the LP stand firm - not to abandon the President on the issue of the RH - and vote to pass the measure in the House of Representatives), the statement further reads.
This is a departure from the ruling party's previous position that relied on each member's conscience vote as far as the measure was concerned. Staunch critics of the bill were not present. It is the "sway-able" LP who were present, said an LP solon who attended the meeting.
LP has a total of 92 members in the House.
The NPC leadership made the same position to support the RH bill.
Pangasinan Rep Kimi Cojuangco told reporters about 50 party members also held a meeting in the House of Representatives before the session on Tuesday.
"We feel na kawawa naman si President. Hindi siya nag-iisa. Nandito kami para sa kanya," said Cojuangco
"It's not a party stand. We had a nice friendly discussion. But we told them a vote of yes is a vote for the President," Cojuangco added.
NPC has over 50 members in the House.
Bishops to watch solons vote
Catholic bishops said they will be present in Wednesday's voting, in an apparent show of force by the sectors opposed to the bill.
The ruling party has been divided on the measure that seeks to provide reproductive health services - including free contraceptives - to the poor who cannot afford them.
Despite an earlier call by President Benigno Aquino III to put the bill to a vote, some LP members in the House still voted in favor of motions that were meant to further delay the process. This led advocates of the RH bill to call on the President to crack the whip. - Rappler.com