MANILA, Philippines—Cheers and hugs were abound at the plenary of the House of Representatives before dawn on Thursday after they passed the Reproductive Health Bill on second reading.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the sponsor of House Bill 4244 otherwise known as the RH Bill, was positive that the 113-104 voting on the measure was already “virtually impossible” to change once it is put to vote for third and final reading.
Prior to its historic approval on second reading, the RH Bill was stuck at Congress for roughly 14 years. Lagman said its passage made him feel “elated.”
House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II said that Monday is the earliest time that the RH Bill can be put through third reading. After it is passed by that time, the approved version of the measure will be transmitted to the Senate which has its own version that is still pending voting on second reading.
But Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez saw the next voting on the bill as an opportunity to change its fate, saying that nothing was impossible. He added that the voting turnout next time could change once legislators who were absent on second reading turn up.
There were 217 legislators present during session, forming a quorum. As per latest count of the House of Representatives’ public relations and information bureau they are made up of 284 solons.
He said that they were sure to overturn the votes once those unable to make it to the second reading show up for final voting next week.
But Lagman seemed unperturbed by this statement, telling reporters that the nominal votes on second reading was very telling of the strength of the pro-RH group at the lower chamber of Congress.
The RH Bill could have been passed Wednesday night through voice vote, the method of voting usually used for second reading, but nominal voting pushed through after a motion from the measure’s opponents. In the end, the RH Bill was still passed but early morning on Thursday.
The Albay legislator urged opponents of the bill to shift to their side, confident that the results of the upcoming final reading would be similar to that of nominal voting for second reading.
“In the third reading, our margin of victory will be greater,” he said.