Latest Stories

RH bill moving at agonizing pace in House


Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez was confident that the RH bill would eventually be defeated via a 136-95 vote. Photo from congress.gov.ph

The reproductive health (RH) bill continued to move at an agonizing pace in the House of Representatives, but Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Wednesday said it was “only a matter of time” before the period of amendments was terminated and the measure finally put to a vote.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he and other lawmakers  opposed to House Bill No. 4244 were gearing up for the vote on second reading, but asked that individual amendments be completed first.

Rodriguez was confident that the RH bill would eventually be defeated via a 136-95 vote.

“We are going to marshal our forces this week,” he told the Inquirer, acknowledging that results of recent nominal voting on individual amendments indicated a “slight lead” in favor of pro-RH House members.

Rodriguez said many anti-RH lawmakers failed to show up during the period of amendments because they had to attend to their constituents affected by Typhoon “Pablo.”

Rodriguez himself flew to Cagayan de Oro at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, less than six hours after RH deliberations were suspended. He was to fly back to Manila in the afternoon to attend the session.

7 sessions left

But with only seven sessions left before Congress goes on a Christmas break, Gonzales said he was expecting a number of House members to move for the termination of the period of amendments.

“It’s only a matter of time before the period of amendments is terminated because many of us, including anti-RH congressmen, also want to vote on the bill,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think the pro-RH (congressmen) will win, but not by a comfortable margin.”

Gonzales said putting the measure to a vote would depend on the “feel of the floor.”

Rodriguez sought to correct the impression that he and several of his anti-RH colleagues were merely trying to delay the proceedings by introducing individual amendments.

Stuck on Page 2

“It’s very important for the public to understand that this is such an important bill that would affect our future generations. So let us be patient,” he said.

The chamber remained stuck on Page 2—the declaration of policy—of the 27-page substitute bill to HB 4244, as Rodriguez’s group pushed for amendments seeking the protection of the life of the unborn and respect for the freedom of religion.


Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, sponsor of HB 4244, earlier agreed to key amendments to the government guarantee on “public access to relevant information and education.”

These now include “moral” reproductive healthcare services “that do not violate the freedom of religion.” Also covered are supplies which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum “in the uterus.”

Lagman also agreed to include the constitutional guarantee that the state would “equally protect the life of the mother and the unborn from conception.”

But Lagman objected to Rodriguez’s proposal to include “where human life begins” after the term “conception” in the declaration of policy. The chamber spent more than an hour deciding on the amendment.

In the end, the proposal lost in the nominal voting that ended shortly after 10 p.m. A total of 81 lawmakers voted against the Rodriguez proposal, while 57 voted in favor of it. One lawmaker abstained.


The session was promptly suspended, but Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay protested, saying the result showed that only 139 House members cast their votes, a number below the required quorum.

Earlier in the evening, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia sought to include a guarantee that “the state shall refrain from taking any action or measure that will tend to make any woman or couple to violate the tenets or teaching of their religion.”

“Suppose the state will find that the diet of the Muslims is deficient in protein. Will the state promote the free distribution of pork in the markets of Muslim Mindanao and include that in a law?” he argued.

“And that is precisely is what the state is doing through this bill, promoting the sales of contraceptives, condoms, which are in direct violation of the fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church.”

Lagman rejected the amendment, and so did the chamber via nominal voting, 100-74.

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: Congress , Government , Health , Legislation , RH bill , Social Issues

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
  1. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  2. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  3. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  4. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  5. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. At 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
  8. Solons seek ample protection for bank depositors
  9. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  10. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  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. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  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. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • ‘I’ll make it,’ says young ferry passenger to family
  • Bad weather halts rescue after deadliest Everest disaster
  • Gigi Reyes has no other option but to turn state witness — Santiago
  • US weighing military exercises in Eastern Europe
  • Rains loom in Surigao as LPA nears
  • Sports

  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • 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

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace