MANILA, Philippines — The principal author and sponsor of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill on Friday appealed to the proposed measure’s co-authors and advocates at the House of Representatives to attend session.
In a statement, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said he sent his appeal to over a hundred co-authors and confirmed advocates and supporters of House Bill 4244.
“Together, they constitute a clear majority of the total membership of the House of Representatives of 283 Representatives.”
“May I earnestly reiterate my appeal for all of us, RH bill authors and advocates, to be present during the last 12 session days before the Christmas break and maintain a quorum up to adjournment,” Lagman said in his letter to fellow lawmakers.
He urged supporters of HB 4244, for which a substitute bill with new amendments has been crafted, to show up for session because “the House of Representatives needs your presence and support to institutionalize this enabling anchor.”
“Let us offer our constituents a small measure of sacrifice by responding to this urgent quorum call. Let us transform our enduring patience to renewed activism for the enactment now of an RH law,” he said.
Lagman pointed out in his letter the importance of passing an RH law at this time, saying that it would act as “an anchor for the government’s pro-poor, pro-women, pro-health and pro-development agenda.”
“In our 13-year crusade for the enactment of a Reproductive Health law, it is only now in the 15th Congress that we have reached the threshold of passing the RH bill,” he said.
“Let us collectively seize the moment and deliver without further delay the bill which is pregnant with fulfillment for maternal and infant health, reproductive self-determination as a human right, and sustainable human development,” added the lawmaker.
The RH Bill is just one of the key measures languishing at the plenary as lawmakers found it difficult to muster and maintain a quorum since they resumed session on November 5.
Lagman’s appeal came following a tension-filled week for pro-RH legislators.
One of them, Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco, even got into a fight with House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II whom she accused over Twitter of telling her that there was no hope of passing the RH Bill during the 15th Congress.
Lawmakers supporting the RH Bill want it passed before they going on a Christmas break on December 22.