MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said that President Benigno Aquino III issued a safe position on the controversial reproductive health issue in his state of the nation address on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Sotto said that Aquino instead talked about the passage of the responsible parenting bill, which Malacanang has submitted to the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council.
“I think the president gave a very safe statement. Some people wanted to think that it was the RH bill he was pertaining to. But he was I think, it was an advice. To me it came as an advice,” Sotto said.
Aquino on Monday received cheers from supporters of the RH Bill when he mentioned in passing the responsible parenthood bill in his congressional speech.
“Everybody is in favor of the responsible parenthood bill as a matter of fact, Archbishop Oscar Cruz said that responsible parenthood means planning your family and the number one component there is natural family planning method. Kaya maganda yung pino-propose ni president [That’s why the proposal by the president is good],” Sotto said.
He added that the President’s proposed responsible parenthood bill may have a better chance of passing in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Nevertheless, Sotto said that there were similarities between the responsible parenthood bill and the pending RH bill especially on the provisions for maternal health care, protection of women and the unborn. There are differences, however, regarding the purchase of contraceptives and abortifacients.
Meanwhile, when asked if the Senate will adapt the Malacañang’s version, Sotto said: “It depends on the period of amendments.”
He added that the Senate would begin its deliberation on the RH Bill either on August 6 or August 13.