7 minority bloc lawmakers withdraw RH Bill co-authorshipBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Seven members of the minority bloc have formally withdrawn their co-authorship of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.
Minority leader Danilo Suarez on Wednesday told reporters during a media forum that he was withdrawing co-authorship from the bill, along with Siquijor Representative Orlando Fua, Una Ang Pamilya Party-list Representative Concepcion Obillo, Lanao del Sur Representative Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman, AA Kasosyo Party-list Representative Nasser Pangandaman, Camarines Norte Representative Elmer Panotes, and Anad Party-list Representative Pastor Alcover.
Asked why he had a change of heart over House Bill 4244 entitled “An Act Providing For A Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, And Population And Development, And For Other Purposes”, the minority leader said that while he thought that the measure could resolve the high rate of “unwanted and unprogrammed pregnancies,” he recently realized, upon visiting developed countries which had more adults that children in their population, that the Philippines’ asset was its people.
Suarez said that they hoped all members of the House of Representatives would be allowed to ask questions once the RH Bill was put to a vote on August 7.
Only eight of their members remained co-authors of the HB 4244 but one of them, Representative Albano said that he has yet to decide on whether to withdraw his co-authorship or not.
“I’m still waiting for the final discussion on the bill. I must confess that I was convinced by the interpellations of Representative Mitos Magsaysay against the bill,” Albano said.
The minority bloc originally had 15 members who originally co-authored the measure, Suarez said, adding that out of their 28 members, the number of anti-RH solons was now 20.
Suarez said that their letter informing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of their decision was received Wednesday morning.
He said that former President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is among those against the RH Bill, plans to personally cast her vote since the issue was “close to her heart.”
He however denied that the former chief executive influenced members of the opposition to go against the RH Bill, saying that “she feels strongly about (the issue) as a devout Catholic, although she never used her term in the Presidency to push things her way.”
“But now, as a member of Congress, she will be free to vote her heart and her mind,” Suarez added, even hinting that the Pampanga lawmaker might even show up at an anti-RH Bill rally planned for Saturday at the EDSA Shrine.
Suarez said that despite Arroyo’s poor health, she might show up at the rally to support church groups against HB 4244.
“Some of us have always opposed the RH bill and will simply continue to do so.”