RH Bill likely to be Passed on 2nd Reading ‎

June 9, 2012

PHILIPPINES – Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano remain optimistic that the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill could be passed in the 15th Congress.

“As I have predicted, we may have to pass it after the SONA, by August. That is our best hope,” Santiago said, referring to President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Congress goes into sine die adjournment this week.

The chamber wrapped up its period of interpellation on the bill the other day.

“We will be very relieved if that happens because the RH bill has been pending for decades in Congress. I think the general benefits will outweigh the doubts if they are still lingering in the minds of people who have been influenced by theology and members of the religious,” Santiago added.

Santiago and Cayetano co-sponsored the measure.

Santiago noted that after the impeachment trial, some of the senators who strongly opposed the bill might have softened their stand.

“I think that after all the violent argumentation during the impeachment trial, the senators are feeling much more conciliatory with each other, and hoped to move from their original positions to a more close and harmonious relationship with the sponsors of the RH bill,” Santiago added.

Santiago said she and Cayetano are “filled with very high hopes” that the measure will be passed by August or before yearend.

Santiago said she hopes that there will be no more long debates during the period of amendments.

“We do not see any serious challenge in the bill itself,” she said.

“We finished virtually the entire panoply of questions that could possibly be raised. We are very patient, and we always retreated to allow more and more interpellations,” Santiago said.

Since the measure merely finished the period of interpellation, it has to undergo period of amendments before the second and then third reading.

“With respect to the amendments, we are ready with an open mind to accept those that might become necessary because politics is the art of compromise, as long as they don’t compromise the basic principles of the RH bill,” Santiago said.

The Senate terminated last Tuesday the interpellations on Senate Bill 2865, the proposed Reproductive Health Act.

Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committees on Health and Demography and on Youth, Women and Family Relations, was thankful that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a known critic of the bill, withdrew his intent to resume his interpellation.

This prompted Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to manifest that there were no more senators left to ask questions on the bill.

Cayetano delivered her sponsorship speech on the RH bill nearly one year ago on June 7. Since then, a total of nine senators had taken the floor to interpellate the sponsors.

“I certainly hope that in that whole year that we’ve spent debating on the bill, my co-sponsor (Defensor-Santiago) and I have also been able to enlighten some of them on their questions and concerns,” she said.

Cayetano reassured the public that she and other proponents will continue to work hard on this measure, “while also taking into consideration the valid points raised by some of our colleagues.”

SOURCE: The Philippine Star

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