Quantcast
Latest Stories

No RH vote? Politicians fear ire of local priests

By

This Palace official suspects one reason for the lack of quorum in the House of Representatives during deliberations on the reproductive health (RH) bill: Reelectionist lawmakers fear provoking their parish priests.

In the countryside, there is such a thing as a “Catholic vote,” and pro-RH lawmakers would rather absent themselves from the sessions than become the object of attacks from the pulpit in the run-up to the May 2013 elections, according to Secretary Manuel Mamba.

Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, on Sunday said lawmakers were “fearful” of provoking their parish priests by appearing in the deliberations, much more by voting for the controversial measure.

“If you’re a politician, you stay out of trouble. They (the clergy) are not even the enemy. Why provoke them? By voting for the measure, you’re provoking the Catholic hierarchy,” Mamba said in a phone interview.

“The elections are near. You don’t want to create enemies. In local politics, there is a Catholic vote, especially in areas where the clergy are very influential on their flock. If the clergy are popular, they have the pulpit. They can do it every Sunday,” he added.

So, for some pro-RH lawmakers with their eyes on the midterm elections, the option is “to absent themselves” from the deliberations, said Mamba, whose office acts as middleman between Malacañang and Congress in the choice of the legislative agenda.

Lack of quorum

Mamba said President Aquino was aware of such dynamics in local politics. Being a former lawmaker himself in  Cagayan province, Mamba said he “fully understood” where the lawmakers were coming from.

“It would have been much easier if it were put to a vote not too close to the elections,” he said.

The campaign for the midterm elections begins  in mid-February.

The Church fiercely opposes the measure. After bold predictions by House leaders that the bill would be approved, plenary debates on the measure have bogged down for lack of quorum.

Lawmakers either skip sessions or leave after the roll call. Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said most of the absentees were supporters of the measure.

Abortion, promiscuity

The RH bill would provide couples with information on family planning approaches, including modern contraception methods that the Church opposes. It would also widen reproductive health education in schools and government health centers.

Church officials oppose the measure, saying it might promote abortion as well as promiscuity. They consider some birth control pills as abortifacient.

The health department supports the bill, saying it would reduce maternal and child deaths in the Philippines.

The President has not issued a fresh call for his allies in the House to bring the measure to a vote.

Time to vote

“The President has said his piece,” Mamba said, referring to Mr. Aquino’s Aug. 6 caucus with the lawmakers. “He has given orders for the lawmakers to be present, have a quorum and vote on it. He will not impose whatever position they will have. What’s important is they vote on it.”

After the caucus, the lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to terminate debates. But with the lack of quorum, no amendment has been introduced.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the lawmakers had yet to discuss with the President the matter of certifying the measure as urgent. Otherwise, Malacañang was leaving its approval up to the lawmakers, she said.

In the 283-member House, the pro-RH proponents have a slight edge over the anti-RH lawyers. Some congressional sources say it’s possible more anti-RH lawmakers than pro-RH proponents would show up if a vote is forced now.

‘Ripe for a vote’

“Our problem in the House is membership. Our problem in the Senate is the leadership,” Mamba said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III are opposed to a counterpart measure in the chamber. Unlike in the House, the bill has better chances of getting approved in the Senate, with more senators backing it, according to Mamba.

“I think the RH bill is ripe for a vote in the Senate,” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on dzBB radio. “The issues have become tedious since I sponsored my own version as a congressman. All of us are ready, win or lose.”

Marcos said Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano, the main authors of the Senate bill calling for a national policy on reproductive health and population, had agreed it was time to put it to a vote whatever the outcome.

“I will support the bill,” Marcos said.

But he said the 2013 elections would play a factor in the outcome of the vote.

“I’ve heard that some of the authors [in the House] have withdrawn their support because of the election. That’s the reality in our politics. If you are candidates, it’s really difficult to oppose the Church,” Marcos said. With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan and Inquirer Research

Originally posted: 6:10 pm | Sunday, November 25th, 2012


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: 2013 midterm elections , Abigail Valte , Benigno Aquino III , Catholic Church , Elections , House of Representatives , lawmakers , Legislation , Malacañang , Manuel Mamba , News , Philippine Congress , Philippine executive branch , Philippine president , PLLO , Politics , Presidential Legislative Liaison Office , reproductive health , Reproductive Health Bill , Senate




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Boko Haram leader claims Nigeria capital bombing
  • Russia promises support to ending Ukraine crisis
  • Busted valve delays water interruption
  • Cardinal Tagle decries human ‘commercialization’
  • Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
  • Sports

  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement