Belmonte pushes amendment period for delayed RH billBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Lawmakers must push through with the period of amendments to House Bill No. 4244, or the reproductive health (RH) bill, to be able to come up with a definite version of the measure, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
Belmonte on Thursday said it is difficult to speak of a definite RH bill because so many amendments have already been introduced and people may actually be referring to different versions of the bill when they talk about the controversial measure.
“I want to see the period of amendments progress so we could come up with a definite bill, not just a measure that is described any way a person wants to describe it,” he added.
The RH bill has hurdled a long-winded period of debates in the House of Representatives, but earlier attempts to begin the period of amendments were stalled because opponents of the measure had invoked their right to hold privilege speeches.
In an attempt to defuse growing tension over the bill, lawmakers agreed to form an informal working group composed of supporters and opponents of the bill, as well as Catholic bishops who are among those who are very critical of the measure.
The group would try to come up with a compromise version of the RH bill that the House would put to a vote after it returns from its break next month. The group would also exclude hard-liners who find it difficult to compromise.
The RH bill seeks to provide contraceptives and family planning service to Filipinos in order to reduce maternal deaths and allow families to determine the number and spacing of their children. It also provides mobile health clinics, barangay health workers and emergency obstetric care.
One of the proposed amendments to the measure is to limit the distribution of contraceptives to the poorest of the poor families identified by the National Household Targeting System, who are believed to be the ones who need them the most.