Speaker to anti-RH solons: Stop delaying process

Angela Casauay

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Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr appeals to his colleagues to stop delaying RH Bill proceedings

STOP DELAYS. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr appealed to his colleagues to stop impeding the RH Bill proceedings. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines – Let’s decide on the RH Bill once and for all, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr said as Congress resumes sessions Monday November 5. 

“We made the bill palatable to the critics and I hope they would stop delaying the proceedings because this is a very important piece of legislation,” Belmonte said.

“We should decide on this matter once and for all,” he added.

Copies of House Bill 4244 containing new amendments were distributed in plenary on October 17 before the House of Representatives paused for a two-week recess.

Earlier, lawmakers formed an informal Technical Working Group, composed of the Executive, proponents and opposers of the RH bill from both houses of Congress, and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, to speed up talks on the controversial measure after lawmakers voted to end debates on August 6.

Despite the changes, critics of the bill still appear unconvinced.

Minority Floor Leader Danilo Suarez has said that he is still not 100% behind the new version while Cagayan Rep Rufus Rodriguez has said that he will question the process as he believes that the substitute bill needs to be discussed at the committee level again. 

Some RH Bill supporters have also expressed disappointment with the “watered down” version of the measure. AGHAM Partylist Rep Angelo Palmones has said the new version is not the same bill that lawmakers co-authored before. 

From “universal access” to reproductive health services, the new bill now mandates “public access” to “medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable and effective” reproductive health care services and supplies “which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum” as determined by the Food and Drug Administration.

The substitute bill also prioritizes marginalized households in the distribution of reproductive health care services. 

In a radio interview, Deputy Majority Leader Janet Garin, one of the co-authors of the bill, said she hopes that the measure will be approved on second reading before Congress goes on break from December 22 to January 20 for the Christmas holidays. 

“With all due respect, if we think about it, mas malaking kasalanan sa mga Pilipino na hindi aksyunan ang RH bill (With all due respect, if we think about it, it’s a bigger sin to Filipinos not to act on the RH Bill). We need to put it to a vote,” Garin said. 

Garin said only three anti-RH lawmakers remain vocal against the approval of the proposed law – Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia, Batagas Rep Hermilando Mandanas and Rep Rodriguez. – Rappler.com

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