Belmonte to SC: Voiding RH law a veto on people's will
MANILA, Philippines – Declaring the reproductive health (RH) law as unconstitutional would be "a veto against the will of majority of our people."
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr issued this statement on Tuesday, February 11, amid reports that the Supreme Court law is likely to declare the RH law unconstitutional.
The SC decision on the case “would have deep and far-reaching implications for the country," Belmonte warned.
“Remember that we have 289 House members who are individuals representing a broad spectrum of society,” the Speaker said. “They are representatives directly elected to articulate what majority of their constituents want. Therefore, the resulting law is a product of this painstaking process and is a democratic compromise."
The controversial measure took over 13 years to pass. After rigorous debates that lasted until the late hours of the evening, Congress finally approved the historic bill in 2012 despite lobbying from the Catholic Church. Soon after President Benigno Aquino III signed it into law, a total of 15 petitions questioning its constitutionality was lodged before the Supreme Court by mostly Catholic groups.
Justices ended oral arguments for the RH law in August 2013, but Belmonte said the arguments raised during the SC debates had already been addressed in the debates in Congress.
“Each of these views have already been openly taken up numerous times before enactment and yet [the measure] has now become a law. Therefore, the anti-RH argument is now a minority view. We must therefore respect the desire of the majority which is to exercise their freedom of choice," Belmonte said. (READ: SC ends RH law arguments; what happens now?)
Belmonte said the law "clearly states" that having an abortion is illegal, noting that the final decision on the issue must be based on legality and not on morality.
“We must remember that Congress is tasked not with being judges of morality, but with safeguarding the legal rights of our people,” he said.
Read Rappler's coverage of the oral arguments: