Latest Stories

Intense lobbying on RH bill


Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, an anti-RH proponent, said there was nothing wrong with bishops campaigning against the bill, noting that the pro-RH side had no less than President Aquino backing it. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

House members on either side of the reproductive health (RH) debate have agreed that “pork barrel” would not be a factor when the measure comes up for a vote on second reading next Wednesday.

But both sides anticipate intense lobbying during the crucial period before the vote, which could alter the outcome.

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a co-author of House Bill No. 4244, said she was wary of Catholic bishops approaching individual congressmen to convince them to vote against the measure.

“Admittedly, the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) is a very powerful institution and the elections are just five months away,” she said in a phone interview.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, an anti-RH proponent, said there was nothing wrong with bishops campaigning against the bill, noting that the pro-RH side had no less than President Aquino backing it.

“Remember that the President himself expressed his preference that if he were still a member of Congress, he would vote for the bill,” he said, citing also the number of local and foreign organizations lobbying for the measure.

Pork no threat

Garin and Rodriguez rejected the possibility that the vote would be affected by the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Commonly known as “pork barrel,” the PDAF is said to have been dangled before lawmakers in the past whenever crucial decisions are to be made in Congress.

“There has never been a threat (from the Palace) not to release the PDAF if we do not vote for the RH bill,” Garin said.

“I don’t think something like that would happen in the case of the RH bill,” said Rodriguez.

“Pork barrel has never been an issue. The bottom line is the Palace has priority measures, which it thinks can help the people,” said Garin.

Despite the fears about lobbying, Rodriguez is confident that “everything would all boil down to the conscience and conviction of individual congressmen.”

“There are congressmen who cannot be influenced by bishops or the President,” he said.

Fearless forecast

Rodriguez said pro- and anti-RH bill congressmen earlier agreed to put the measure to a vote on second reading on Dec. 12. He said the date was of particular significance to the anti-RH bloc because it is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn.

He said as many as 136 House members would vote against HB 4244. But Garin was more guarded in her prediction, saying the RH bill had a “50-50” chance of getting passed.

“You’ll be surprised by the vote. We’ve been doing some tracking since a year ago. This is our forecast,” said Rodriguez.

Garin said pro-RH lawmakers were ready to accept a decision to reject the measure.

“We will accept the result, the decision of the majority of the members of the House,” she said.

“But if the RH bill is not passed, it would be time for us to accept that our country, our culture, our legislators are not yet ripe for a reproductive health bill,” she said.

26 off to watch Pacquiao

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Friday downplayed fears that the number of House members leaving for the United States to watch Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s fight would affect the House’s work, expecially now that the RH bill is headed for a crucial vote on second reading.

“(It will) affect attendance, yes, but I expect a quorum,” as he expected most of the congressmen to be back by Tuesday, said Belmonte.

“I have to try to find out who actually are going because they may just cancel each other out,” Belmonte told reporters following the suspension of the period of individual amendments on the RH bill late Wednesday night.

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said at least 26 House members are expected to fly to Las Vegas for Pacquiao’s fourth encounter with his Mexican nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez.

“Maybe some of them already flew out of the country,” Gonzales told reporters Friday.


Bigger pressure

Gonzales stressed the importance of next week’s deliberations, especially with the chamber expected to vote on the RH bill on second reading on Dec. 12.

“By next week, there will be bigger pressure on the members of the House, especially those causing the delay,” he said, obviously referring to congressmen trying to inject changes into the RH bill during the period of amendments.

“They would have their respective commitments by next week so they will receive a lot of pressure to finish this stage. It’s Christmas time. We need to vote on this already,” he said.

During Pacquiao’s third bout with Marquez in November 2011, a total of 26 House members were given authorization by the House leadership to fly to the US. But it could not be ascertained how many actually went to watch the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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: CBCP , Congress , Government , Legislation , PDAF , Pork barrel , 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. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  5. State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  6. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  7. Estrada: I will pray for my detractors
  8. Miraculous image makes Gapan City top site for pilgrimage in Central Luzon
  9. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  10. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • After quake, makeshift churches welcome pilgrims in Bohol
  • UN warns banana fungus spreading from Southeast Asia
  • Massive infra spending set
  • ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  • Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  • Sports

  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Power Pinoys settle for 7th place
  • Successful coaches to get raise
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  • Entertainment

  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Jealousy is kid stuff
  • Mommy-daughter adventure continues
  • Business

  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Gov’t subsidies to state firms fell in first 2 months
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • 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

  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Milpitas, California kids wrap up a successful run of ‘The Wiz’
  • Netizens welcome Japan’s visa-free travel plan
  • Marketplace