Nation


Proponent unfazed, Palace appeals for support over RH measure




Posted on August 02, 2012


THE PRINCIPAL author of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is unfazed by the withdrawal of support from the minority bloc, while Malacañang has appealed for lawmakers to consider the position of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on the issue.

"It’s really unfortunate that my former colleagues have chosen to use the issue as a party matter," Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (1st district, Albay) said in a phone interview yesterday.

"We have adequate number despite the withdrawal of the members. It must be noted, however, that other minority members have not withdrawn their support for the bill," he added.

Mr. Lagman declined to disclose the number of those supporting the measure, even as he said that House Bill (HB) No. 4244, which aims to promote both natural and modern methods of family planning, "must transcend politics."

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing that in deciding on the fate of the bill next week, "the congressmen will note the comment made by the President" regarding responsible parenthood during the State of the Nation Address.

He added that Mr. Aquino "feels strongly about having a responsible parenthood bill."

"This should not be a vote as to whether will I be reelected if I don’t vote on this bill or not? It should be a vote on the future of our country and the future of the children that we bring into the world," Mr. Lacierda said.

FORMAL WITHDRAWAL

In a letter dated July 30, House Minority leader Danilo E. Suarez (3rd district, Quezon) and some colleagues withdrew their co-authorship of HB 4244.

"Several of us have decided to withdraw our co-authorship of the bill," the group said. "There are many other pressing matters to which the President should pay more attention."

The lawmakers also requested Mr. Aquino to convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to identify the final set of priority bills before the third regular session closes.

"As members of the Congress, we urge him to convene the third LEDAC meeting as soon as possible in order to finalize his priority bills before the end of the 15th Congress," the solons added.

The third regular session ends on June, 6, 2013, according to the legislative calendar. The RH bill is a LEDAC priority.

The other lawmakers who signed the withdrawal letter are Orlando B. Fua (Siquijor), Reena Concepcion G. Obillo (Una ang Pamilya party-list), Mohammed Hussein C. Pangandaman (1st district, Lanao del Sur), Nasser C. Pangandaman (AA-Kasosyo party list), Elmer E. Panotes (2nd district, Camarines Norte) and Pastor M. Alcover, Jr. (Anad party-list).

The House will vote on Tuesday to end the period of debate on HB 4244. The move will allow the solons to introduce amendments before approval on second reading.

The Senate has ended interpellations on the bill on June 6, before Congress ended the second regular session. -- MJOC and NMG