MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III may not have certified the Reproductive Health Bill as urgent but his call for legislators to vote within the week was enough for the main proponent of the measure.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman told reporters that “positive developments…are now unfolding” for the substitute version for House Bill 4244 more popularly known as the RH Bill.
“Although the President didn’t tell us to vote categorically for measure, he unequivocably and repeatedly said that if he could he would vote for the RH Bill. It is a clear statement of endorsement—it is unmistakable,” he said.
This was what Aquino told more than 170 lawmakers who met him for lunch earlier to discuss the RH Bill’s fate as sessions dwindle due to the upcoming holidays.
“This personal appeal is stronger than a certification,” said Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, adding how “theoretically, we can pass it on second reading tonight.”
Pro-RH lawmakers are eyeing to pass the bill before Christmas break and Lagman said that this target was still on for them.
He believes that the antis have exhausted all possible tactics to delay developments on the RH Bill but pointed out that killer amendments would be rejected.
Even with the lack of quorum plaguing sessions at the House of Representatives, the RH Bill proponent said that anytime they do reach a quorum, the House leadership will try to resume deliberations for the bill’s individual amendments.
“Anytime we have a quorum, we (the pro-RH solons) have sufficient number,” Lagman assured.