Latest Stories

Anti-RH lawmakers accuse 4 Palace officials of lobbying during voting


Speaking on condition of anonymity, an administration congressman said Roxas particularly “looked a little concerned” when anti-RH votes were making a late surge toward the end of the five-hour nominal voting. PDI FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—What clinched the vote for the reproductive health bill at the House of Representatives?

Four key emissaries of President Aquino were conspicuously present at the South Lounge of the Batasan building and stayed on until every vote was cast—and counted—in favor of passing House Bill No. 4244 on second reading, the Inquirer has learned.

Led by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the group included Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Secretary Ricky Carandang, according to a number of House members who spoke with the Inquirer.

“They were lobbying for a yes vote,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez protested in an interview moments after the result was announced at around 2 a.m. on Thursday.

“The administration’s people were here and so it really tilted the balance (in favor of the RH bill)—Abad, Mar Roxas, Lacierda and Ricky Carandang. What happened to the independence of the legislators? The Executive should not meddle with the legislature.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another administration congressman said Roxas particularly “looked a little concerned” when anti-RH votes were making a late surge toward the end of the five-hour nominal voting.

“Towards the end of the vote when it was close, I personally heard Mar say, ‘Sino pa bang pwedeng pauwiin dyan?’” the senior House member told the Inquirer. “Mar looked a little concerned, moving from his table to the table occupied by his staff where they had a tally.”

The RH bill moved past the second reading, with 113 House members voting in favor of passing the measure and another 104 voting against it.

Three congressmen abstained while 62 were absent during marathon proceedings watched closely by a massive contingent of pro-life groups and RH bill supporters occupying opposite galleries in the plenary hall.

Catholic bishops remained in their seats in the gallery until Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada read the final voting result.

But it was the presence of Roxas and company that made the difference, according to Rodriguez.

“This just showed that the administration was not really asking for a ‘conscience vote’ because they were directing those who could be influenced to vote for the bill,” he said. “This is a Pyrrhic victory.”

Cebu Rep. Pablo John Garcia, who voted against the bill, tweeted shortly after midnight Thursday: “So many Cabinet members at Congress’ South Lounge tonight I thought it was budget deliberations.”

Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, who watched the entire proceedings, lamented the supposed pressure coming from Malacañang.

“In this fight against this bill, the dice is loaded against those who are against the bill because Malacañang is pressuring them,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“I think this is a sad day for the country. I hope those who voted in favor of the bill will live to see the day when they will see the harm that this bill will cause to the country.”

Reyes added: “The truth is not always with the majority. The truth is not determined by pork barrel, by promises of public works and other government projects. It’s not determined by political convenience.”

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said he was not sure how he and other pro-RH bill congressmen were able to muster enough votes.

“I cannot really answer what clinched it for them,” he told reporters. “For us in the Liberal (Party), I cannot say if it was because of the meeting called yesterday because there were also many members who voted against the bill.”

But it was the vote that Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez never cast that drew suspicion among pro-life groups.

A senior LP leader and known opponent of the RH bill, Golez was present on the floor and even introduced amendments before HB 4244 was put to a voice vote at 8:15 p.m. But he was registered as “absent” during voting.

“He was a disappointment last night after evading a principled stand against the RH bill. He became a standard bearer of political expediency and political cowardice. Shame on them,” said John Carlo de los Reyes, president of Ang Kapatiran, a lay Catholic political party.

Golez claimed he opted to “walk out” because of the “party order to vote for RH.”

“I defied the party order by walking out. I would rather die than to vote for RH,” he told the Inquirer.

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: Catholic bishops , Catholic Church , Department of Budget and Management , Department of Interior and Local governments , Edwin Lacierda , Florencio “Butch” Abad , Gabriel Reyes , House of Representatives , Legislation , Malacañang , Mar Roxas , Pablo John Garcia , Philippine Congress , Philippine executive branch , Philippine Government , Philippines , Politics , reproductive health , Reproductive Health Bill , Ricky Carandang , Rufus Rodriguez

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. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  5. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  6. Town, DENR play tug-of-war over crocodile
  7. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  9. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  10. Motorcycle race ends in shooting; 1 killed, 6 hurt
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. Massage attendant arrested on rape complaint filed by Japanese tourist
  3. ‘Tell no one’ Makati bettor won P250M lotto
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  6. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  7. North Korea uses flamethrower to execute official
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  10. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  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’


  • Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths
  • Luzon grid power reserve ‘enough’ for Holy Week
  • Pimentel proposes incentives for companies that will hire ex-convicts
  • State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  • SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps
  • Sports

  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Freddie Roach: I’m satisfied; Manny Pacquiao did well
  • New-look Azkals tie Qatari side
  • San Miguel Beermen eye No. 2 slot, battle Air21 Express
  • Filipinos yield to Iraqis anew Asian club volley
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Noisy celeb spews venom, backs off when confronted
  • Business

  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • BOC sues steel importers
  • BIR continues to miss collection target
  • Technology

  • 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
  • Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Measures set against entry of MERS-CoV
  • Japan backs PH in case before UN
  • Las Vegas union starts pickets over wages, benefits
  • Fil-Am Daly City councilor has eye on Superior Court seat
  • Marketplace