MANILA, Philippines – What good is President Aquino’s endorsement of “responsible parenthood,” the phrase he coined for his version of the controversial Reproductive Health bill (RH bill)? We will know in two weeks.
House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters on Wednesday, July 25, they agreed to finally vote on whether or not they will continue debates on the controversial bill. House Speaker Sonny Belmonte called leaders of political parties to a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the priorities of the House.
A motion to terminate the period of interpellations or debate will be made on August 7, said Gonzales.
This is not the crucial vote that will pass or junk the RH bill on 2nd of three readings for it to hurdle the House of Representatives. It’s a vote that will get the sense of House members if they want to end the period of interpellations or debate (the first stage of 2nd reading) to move on to the period of amendments (the 2nd stage of 2nd reading).
Voting to continue the debate–which is what the critics of RH bill want–almost means a death sentence for the bill in the current 15th Congress. The bill has been debated in the House plenary for over a year. Realistically speaking, Gonzales said they may only tackle RH bill until August because the House will begin to prioritize the 2013 budget come September.
The House committed to pass the budget in October before it takes another break for the filing of certificate of candidacies. Gonzales said it may be difficult to get a quorum after the budget is passed.
Voting to end the debate means good news to RH bill supporters. The chamber proceeds to the period of amendments. Time, however, may still be a challenge. The period of amendments is generally the more difficult stage of 2nd reading. But RH bill proponent Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said it will only take a couple of weeks to pass the RH bill if the House leadership is committed.
Gonzales said the August 7 schedule will give the supporters and critics of the RH bill to “marshal their people.”
“We don’t know what will be the result of the voting but surely it will be an indication of the stand of the members,” Gonzales said.
Lagman is confident that RH bill has the vote in the House. Other supporters of the bill are not as confident, however. – Rappler.com