MANILA, Philippines - Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the sponsors of the Reproductive Health Bill in the House of Representatives, has a ready answer every time the Catholic Church threatens to wield the “Catholic vote” against pro-RH lawmakers.
“Remember, every election they mouth the same propaganda but the results would show that reproductive health advocates win the elections,” he said in an interview on Mornings@ANC.
Lagman noted that even congressmen recognize that the so-called Catholic vote has no empirical basis.
He agreed with the observation of House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales that the lack of quorum in the House of Representatives plenary is not because of fear of the bishops’ threats but because “most of them are in their respective districts because of the early filing of certificates of candidacy.”
“You know politics. Politics is addition. You even cavort with the devil in order to get his vote,” he said.
The Albay lawmaker noted that passage of the measure is closer after the House plenary agreed to adopt a substitute RH Bill last Monday. He said the revised RH bill “keeps the core of the measure” while including some amendments.
Lagman also came to the defense of the House Majority Leader Gonzales after he drew flak from another lawmaker for allegedly failing to push for the speedy passage of the RH measure.
Lagman said Gonzales has proven time and again that he supports the measure despite criticism from the Catholic Church.
He also said the tiff between Gonzales and Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco is the result of a misunderstanding. He noted that it was Gonzales who pushed for the adoption of a substitute RH bill before the plenary last Monday.
“Palagay ko hindi lang sila nagkaintindihan because I am certain that the Majority Floor Leader is pro-RH advocate from the very start and he has shown that last Monday when he was able to shepherd the amendments by substitution successfully in the plenary,” he added.
Lagman downplayed predictions that the RH bill will not be passed in the 15th Congress because of the impending elections. He said the House of Representatives has enough time to pass the measure after the substitute RH bill allowed advocates to recoup months of delays.
“If it is certified by the President, it will expedite the process and definitely we can approve it before the Christmas break,” he said.
He also said it does not matter if the Lower House approves the bill ahead of the Senate.
“It doesn’t matter who comes first. If one chamber passes it, it will be pressure for the other one to do the same so there’s no problem,” he said.