Reproductive Health

RH bill passed in 2 weeks if…

Carmela Fonbuena

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Albay Rep Edcel Lagman cites 2 bills that the House swiftly passed because of political will

RH BILL DEFENDER: Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman (FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines – If there’s a will, there’s a way.

It will only take “a couple of weeks” to pass the Reproductive Health bill (RH bill) in the House of Representatives. But this assumes one thing: that its leadership has the “political will” to push for it.

“Time is not a problem for the House of Representatives,” RH bill proponent Albay Rep Edcel Lagman said in a statement Wednesday, July 18. It has always found time to fast-track the approval of measures which the leadership wants enacted by the plenary in a couple of weeks,” Lagman said.

House majority floor leader Neptali Gonzales II has said that time is running out for the RH bill. There’s only a one-month window to pass the bill, in August, before Congress prioritizes budget deliberations in September.

But Lagman cited two measures which the House swiftly passed because of political will.

One is House Bill No. 4146, which cancelled the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and prescribed the presidential appointment of officers-in-charge in the region. Another is the passage of the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) Governance Act.

“Unlike the ARMM and GOCC bills, which had ordinately short legislative gestation, the current RH bill and its precursors had been debated upon inside and outside Congress for almost one-and-a-half decade,” Lagman said.

President Benigno Aquino III endorsed the RH bill to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, but it was not certified as urgent. Politicians have blinked in the face of pressure from the Catholic Church, which has mobilized its resources, networks and members to oppose the bill.

“There is sufficient time from late July to the full month of August 2012 to vote on the RH bill before the General Appropriations Bill is set for plenary consideration in September,” Lagman said.

Congress resumes session on Monday, July 23.

The RH bill is pending on 2nd reading and still under the period of interpellations. Gonzales said they will make the House members vote on whether or not to continue the plenary debates.

The Senate, on the other hand, has terminated the period of interpellations. When session resumes next week, they will start the period of amendments. 

The second reading is the most difficult stage of the legislative mill. –

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