MANILA, Philippines – The controversial Reproductive Health bill moves a step forward in the legislative process.
The Senate on Tuesday, June 5, ended its debates on the measure, setting the stage for amendments when Congress resumes session in July.
Two proponents of Senate Bill 2865, Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, expressed the hope that both houses of Congress will finally vote on it this year, most likely in August. Congress adjourns this week.
“That is our best hope,” Santiago said. “And we’ll be very, very relieved if that can happen because it has been pending for decades in the Congress.”
“I’m happy and relieved,” Cayetano said in a press statement. “There have been a lot of points raised by my colleagues that we will be able to use to improve the bill, and I would like to thank them for sharing their inputs and concerns with me.”
The bill encourages government support for all forms of contraceptives as well as a nationwide education campaign on reproductive health. The Catholic Church and its allies have been lobbying against it. When he campaigned for president in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III pledged to push for the bill’s approval.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a known critic of the bill, withdrew his plan Tuesday to resume his interpellation after all other interpellators were done with their turn. In previous debates, 9 senators raised questions about the bill. They included Enrile, and Senators Vicente Sotto III, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Sergo Osmena III, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Aquilino Pimentel III.
“We’ve finished virtually the entire panoply of questions that could possibly be raised. We were very, very patient,” Santiago said.
Santiago added that she and Cayetano are open to possible amendments to the measure, “as long as they do not compromise the basic principles of the RH bill.”
Cayetano delivered her sponsorship speech on the RH Bill nearly one year ago on June 7, 2011.
“There have been a lot of points raised by my colleagues that we will be able to use to improve the bill, and I would like to thank them for sharing their inputs and concerns with me,” she said. “I certainly hope that in that whole year that we’ve spent debating on the bill, my co-sponsor (Defensor-Santiago) and I have also been able to enlighten some of them on their questions and concerns.” – Rappler.com
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