House terminates debates on RH bill
MANILA, Philippines—Lawmakers terminated the debates on the controversial Reproductive Health bill on Monday despite opposition from those against the bill.
HB 4244’s proponent, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, said that the decision to vote on Monday instead of pushing through with the previously scheduled voting on Tuesday came after President Aquino rallied lawmakers during a meeting the same day to terminate the debates on the much-debated proposed measure.
Lagman said the President suggested that members of the House of Representatives cast a “conscience vote” on HB 4244, telling them to be brave enough to make a stand on the issue for their constituents and not give in to intimidation, and to address backlogs in the health and education systems.
Lagman said Aquino also warned them that ignoring the issue would result in “inordinately large families” and urged them to support the idea of “children by choice, not by chance.”
CIBAC party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna also clarified that Aquino’s advice was no marching order but a suggestion for “conscience votes.”
Tugna said that some 180 lawmakers were present during the meeting with the chief executive at Malacañang.
Rodriguez loses cool
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez lost his cool when House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II moved to terminate debates on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.
The incensed lawmaker raised his voice in opposing the motion to terminate debates on House Bill 4244, saying that some members were not at the Batasan Complex because the voting was previously scheduled for Tuesday.
“It was announced to all members, in all newspapers, in all media. There is an acceleration to terminate this contrary to all agreements done,” he told lawmakers.
Among other lawmakers, Rodriguez was scheduled to continue his interpellation on the contentious bill.
“We should revert back to the original day! Some are not here!”
“Pregnancy is not a disease! This is an insult to our faith,” said the lawmaker who vowed to vote against the termination of the debates.
“With faith in God, we are going to win on August 7,” he said.
Gonzales explained that his motion was “just a termination of debate,” adding that they had reached a consensus while meeting with President Aquino to vote on Monday instead of Tuesday for fear of rowdy crowds inside the session hall.
“Could you imagine if we vote tomorrow when the gallery is packed? Baka magkabatuhan na dito,” said the majority leader. “August 7 was a suggestion, not a motion. This is not as if nandadaya tayo. There are 230 (lawmakers) present.”
Before the majority leader’s motion was accepted, Magsaysay also urged lawmakers to oppose the change in the schedule of voting on the contentious House Bill 4244.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco had also moved for nominal voting, which allows lawmakers to explain their votes.
Bill for second reading
A total of 249 members of the House of Representatives were present to vote for or against the termination of the debates on HB 4244, including former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is out on bail for the charge of electoral sabotage. Arroyo is a staunch opposer of the bill.
Other known opposers of the bill include Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
The bill now goes to the committee on population and family relations for amendments, after which it will be sent back to the plenary for second reading.
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