Palace on RH bill: Vote for nation’s future
The Palace says lawmakers must not think of the elections but 'the nation's future' in voting on the RH bill

'MESSAGE CLEAR.' Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President made clear his stand on the RH bill during the SONA. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Don’t think about the elections. Think about the nation’s future.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made this statement a few days before the House of Representatives takes a crucial vote on the fate of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Asked if lawmakers must consider the 2013 midterm polls in their vote, Lacierda said another consideration is paramount.

“It should be a vote on the future of our country and the future of the children that we bring into the world. What kind of support, what kind of decent life can you bring if you got too many children that you have brought into this world without the means to support them?”

Lacierda added, “This is about having productive citizens that we can come up with. This is not about voting and being reelected in 2013.”

On August 7, the House will vote on whether or not to continue debates on the RH bill. A vote to prolong the debates effectively kills time for the measure’s passage. Voting to end the debates will usher in the bill to the period of amendments.

President Benigno Aquino III supports a position he calls responsible parenthood, which some RH advocates take to mean as the same measure. The President made a renewed bid for responsible parenthood in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.

Lacierda also responded to a survey of the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBCP) of the Philippines that it has 140 votes to oppose the RH bill.

“There’s another survey by [the Social Weather Stations] which says that 70% of the Filipinos approve the Responsible Parenthood Bill. So I really don’t know what survey the Catholic Church has invoked.”

“We hope that the congressmen will note of the comment made by the President,” he added.

Palace not marshalling votes

While the President flexed his political muscle to get his congressional allies to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona, Lacierda said the Palace will just defer to Congress on the RH bill.

“But suffice it to say that the President has made his statements and the President has made a consistent statement on his 5-point responsible parenthood position.”

Lacierda also said that Catholic bishops must remember that the concerns they expressed in meetings with Malacañang were already included in the Responsible Parenthood Bill.

The Palace initially had a dialogue with the Catholic Church on the issue but talks bogged down because they were unable to reach a compromise. 

In April 2011, Aquino outlined his 5-point position on responsible parenthood:

  1. I am against abortion.
  2. I am in favor of giving couples the right to choose how best to manage their families so that in the end, their welfare and that of their children are best served.
  3. The State must respect each individual’s right to follow his or her conscience and religious convictions on matters and issues pertaining to the unity of the family and the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.
  4. In a situation where couples, especially the poor and disadvantaged ones, are in no position to make an informed judgment, the State has the responsibility to so provide.
  5. In the range of options and information provided to couples, natural family planning and modern methods shall be presented as equally available. –