Senators will hold an extra session next week to tackle the reproductive health (RH) bill if the House of Representatives manages to pass its version before Congress goes on break this month.
“The Senate President (Juan Ponce Enrile) has already agreed to the additional session day for the chamber to vote on the measure on third reading. This assumption is if the House will act on the measure,” said Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. “If the House does not act on the measure, I think there is no point in us having a session on Thursday.”
Under the compromise, anti-RH Senators Ralph Recto and Vicente Sotto III should finish their proposed amendments to the RH bill by Wednesday and Monday, respectively.
This move was labeled as a compromise to the latest wrangling in the Senate on the RH bill as Sotto vigorously opposed moves to tackle the population control measure ahead of other bills scheduled for deliberation.
Sotto shot down a move by Sen. Pia Cayetano, an author of the RH bill, to move the discussion on the bill from page 4 to page 1 of the Senate agenda yesterday.
Cayetano was keen to conclude the period of amendments before the Christmas break in order to give time for Congress to have it approved in the separate chambers and at the bicameral conference committee.
But Sotto was adamant about getting all the details from the RH bill proponents first before moving forward to the period of amendments. “How about you, when were you forced to amend?” asked Sotto at the rostrum. “What’s so important about passing it before Christmas when we are scheduled to stay here until February?”
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago stood up to back up Cayetano and urged the Senate to give “interdepartmental courtesy’’ to the President who has “articulated his desire” to prioritize the RH bill. Gil Cabacungan