Minority leader not 100% behind new RH Bill

Posted at 10/19/12 3:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines – House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez on Friday said he is not completely sold on the revised version of the Reproductive Health Bill in the House of Representatives. 

Speaking to ANC, Suarez said the substitute to House Bill 4244, also known as the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development Act, remains a “conscience call” for the minority.

“If they put it in the plenary for debate, definitely there will be an outcome. I am almost 100 percent sure that those who are against it will make a strong stand against the approval of the bill. It’s not [going to be smooth sailing],” he told ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

Under the new version of the RH bill, the State “guarantees public access to relevant information on medically safe reproductive health care services that do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration.”

It also says the State shall prioritize the needs of poor women and provide funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning.

Suarez said the informal technical working group addressed several issues during the conciliation meetings for the new RH bill.

One issue that was addressed in the meeting is to target the “poorest of the poor” as determined by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction in spreading the word about modern family planning methods.

Suarez said he agreed that some population control measures for the poor should get funding.

“When you go to Parola and slum areas, you will see a lot of children and then when you go to highly urbanized areas, the well off, you don’t see many kids. Sabi nila, we will approach the problem by narrowing down. As a matter of fact, their first target is the recipients of the conditional cash transfer,” he said.

“We somewhat agree on this. Magbigay ka na lang konting funding don where contraceptives will be made available. Napakadaling makuha. So ci-nite na namin yung intimacy issue. Kahit na sabihin mong sobra na yung anak, kung napakaliit ng tinitirhan mo at magkasiping kayo pag gabi, sabi ko napakahirap kontrolin yan. If you have that handy gadget there that will prevent pregnancy, baka makatulong,” he added.

RH bill to be passed in 2013?

On the other hand, Suarez said he is not sold on the use of birth control pills for women. He said he was convinced by the presentation of anti-RH advocates on the negative after effects of pills.

He said one issue that could be tackled during the period of amendments is whether it is easier for government to control population growth or convince couples to have more babies as experienced by other countries.

He noted the Philippine population is now growing at about 1.8% annually. “We’re way below the barometer of an alarming population growth,” he said.

The minority leader said there might not be enough time to pass the bill before the May 2013 polls because of the upcoming Christmas break and the campaign period. Congress is currently on break from October 20 to November 4. 

“It will be very difficult but I am not saying it is impossible…Baka maihabol nila in between the adjournment of the 15th Congress, maybe after the election. Yung yung magandang pag-asa na ma-approve yun,” he said.