RH bill stalled again

Posted at 08/16/12 1:33 AM

MANILA - For the second day in a row, the House of Representatives failed to discuss amendments to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill during its plenary session on Wednesday.

As anti-RH Congressman Roilo Golez of Parañaque City was given a chance to speak on personal and collective privilege on the effects of the habagat and the flooding in the country, he suddenly made a motion to suspend the period amendments on the RH bill.

His motion was followed by another congressman who moved to adjourn the session, and since there was no objection and no longer a quorum, the session was adjourned.

Pro-RH representatives, led by Congressman Edcel Lagman, Cong. Walden Bello, Cong. Janet Garin and others, were again dismayed by the dilatory tactics and filibustering of the anti-RH congressmen.

They expressed hoped that House leaders would have a timetable within which the amendments to the RH bill would be tackled so that the bill can move forward.

On Tuesday, anti-RH congressmen also succeeded in delaying the start of the period of amendments.

Pro-RH bill advocates want to get the period of amendments finished as soon as possible so they can vote on the bill on second reading.

Opposed by Catholic church

The RH bill would make it mandatory for the government to provide free contraceptives as well as introducing sex education in schools, which the politically influential Catholic church has rejected.

The church, whose opinion on key issues helps to shape public opinion, led thousands in a rally last August 4 to call on congressmen to junk the bill.

The Senate needs to separately pass the bill before it can effectively become law, and some of its leaders have openly said they would reject it.

In the past, opponents of the bill used lengthy debates and long-winded speeches to delay its passage until Congress adjourned, effectively preventing it from being passed.

Women's groups as well as the United Nations have been pushing for the law to be passed, saying it would help to bring down maternal mortality rates in the Philippines, which is one of the highest in the region. - with a report from Agence France-Presse