House sets crucial vote on Reproductive Health bill
By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) Updated March 07, 2012 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The leadership of the House of Representatives is scheduling a crucial vote on the controversial reproductive health (RH) or responsible parenthood and population development bill.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters yesterday that he has suggested to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. that the House vote to terminate debates before Congress goes on its five-week Lenten break on March 23. “The Speaker has already agreed to my suggestion,” he said.
“At some point, we have to put an end to the interminable discussions. This bill cannot continue to be in a state of suspended animation.”
He said the debates have been going in circles, but still, there are about 20 more House members wanting to be enlightened about the measure.
He said that a vote to terminate plenary debates “means the RH bill has a chance of eventual approval.”
“If the other side prevails, then the bill will continue to be in limbo and we might have to devote our time on other equally important measures,” he added.
Gonzales pointed out that if the House decides to end the repetitive discussions on the RH bill before its Lenten recess, it would consider amendments when session resumes on May 7.
“We might be able to take a second-reading vote on it before the next adjournment on June 8,” he added.
At least one author of the bill, Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, has urged House leaders to exercise their “power of cloture” – or power to force ending of debate – on those opposed to the measure so that a vote could finally be taken.
The reproductive health and population management measure is one of the legislative priorities of President Aquino. Its proponents have urged Aquino to take a more active role in pushing for its approval by the House, which is dominated by administration allies.
“He should show the same zeal in pushing for it as in getting impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona convicted,” one proponent, who did not want to be identified, said.
The lawmaker said unless the President “personally intervenes and calls his allies, this bill won’t move.”