Much faster passage of RH bill seen; both sides claim victory



Majority Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The suspense over the House of Representatives’ third and final reading on the controversial reproductive health bill is expected to be shorter this time around.

Unlike the five-hour second reading vote, the third reading process today will be much faster because under House rules, all lawmakers would first have to signify their vote before any of them would be allowed to explain the positions they have taken, according to Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II.

This means that the verdict would already be known by the time the representatives, if any, begin justifying their stance, Gonzales said.

During the second reading nominal vote last week, many representatives opted to hold speeches– some brief and to the point, others meandering– explaining their stance before casting their vote. The bill’s passage, on 113 yes votes, 104 no votes and three abstentions, was only known after more than five hours.

The reproductive health bill seeks to distribute contraceptives and make other family planning methods available for free, giving priority to the poor. It bans contraceptives that prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum, as some consider this abortion.

It also provides for age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education in public schools, among other provisions.

Proponents of the measure, including main sponsor Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, are confident that they will retain their second-reading vote victory, citing the voting history on their side, and the fact that all second reading votes have been sustained up to the end.

The President’s clear support for the bill, by certifying it as urgent, will also work in its favor, added Gonzales.

But opponents said the earlier victory was too close at 113-104, and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said “divine providence,” as well as the attendance and voting of some 62 previously absent lawmakers, would ensure that the bill would be rejected in the end.

Lagman, in a statement, predicted the ultimate victory of the bill in the House, citing the ayes and nays and nominal voting results rejecting various motions and amendments of the bill’s critics.

Lagman also decried the statements of the bill’s critics who have refused to embrace the earlier voting results.

“The continuing resistance of a few Catholic bishops and their lay allies is inordinate intransigence even after a clear majority in the House of Representatives has spoken in accord with the overriding resolve of the Filipino people in favor of the RH bill,” Lagman added.

Gonzales said the President’s certification of the bill as urgent, thereby underscoring his desire for the measure, could sway more lawmakers into approving it on third reading. The President has made it very clear that he wanted the bill passed, and members of his Liberal Party were expected to support him in this endeavor, he added.

He believes the second reading victory would be sustained. House leaders have kept up their task of calling and sending text messages to colleagues to get them to attend the Monday session and join the voting.

Rodriguez said opponents of the measure have also stepped up their drive to get more lawmakers to attend the session, and he urged those who were absent or who have abstained to take a definite stand on the bill, and preferably vote against it.

He said many absent lawmakers were known opponents of the bill and have committed to vote against it in the final reading, and they were more numerous than the absent supporters. The President’s certification would have no effect on opponents of the bill, he believed.

He also said the third reading vote could very well be a “historic” moment since it could be the first time a second reading passage of a measure would be overturned.

Other bills passed on second reading usually had an overwhelming majority, but this was clearly not the case for the reproductive health bill. The margin of victory was too narrow, he added.

The opponents’ faith has also been unshaken, he added.

“Have they not heard of divine guidance? There is divine providence and the power of prayer,” he said over the phone, when asked about comments that all second reading votes have usually been sustained in the third reading.

He said Catholic bishops would turn up in the gallery again to watch the third reading vote and to pray for the victory of bill’s opponents.

As to whether administration officials would troop to the House to watch the voting again, Gonzales could not say.

The presence of officials, led by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, during the second reading vote drew flak from critics of the bill, who said they pressured lawmakers into approving the measure despite the President’s earlier statement that it would be a conscience vote.

Gonzales earlier said the Liberal Party officials were there to watch the crucial vote since they have openly declared their support for the bill, and added this was no different from the presence of Catholic Church officials on the floor to sway lawmakers into rejecting the measure. Some of the prelates have also vowed to warn voters against those who are for the bill.

He denied that lawmakers were threatened with the loss of their pork barrel should they vote no to the bill.

Lagman defended the administration lobby, saying “legislation is the joint responsibility of the legislative and executive departments.”

The President sometimes endorses legislators’ bills as priority measures to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, and he has the power to certify the immediate enactment of certain measures. The President is also necessary into turning a bill into a law by either signing it or allowing it to lapse.

Rodriguez also said he knew of no threat from the administration to withhold the pork barrel from lawmakers opposing the RH bill.

But he hopes the administration would allow the House to be independent when it comes to the reproductive health bill.

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  • Ommm

    ” He said Catholic bishops would turn up in the gallery again to watch the
    third reading vote and to pray for the victory of bill’s opponents.”

    But the file photo shows these persecutors in “beanies”, recording the names of those who support the bill, presumably for future retribution…. The photo is eerie of the Spanish Inquisition 500 years previous, long before photography was even invented…not much has changed for the persecutors as dozens of generations have passed except for the fact today’s more educated no longer buy their version of hel lfire and brimstone….

  • Todd

    I read the RH Bill won’t amend the anti-abortion law already in effect. Sounds like a good deal to me. Pass out the condoms.

    • Jose

      It never has: that’s just a Church fallacy.

  • mad_as_Hamlet

    If the pro-RH and the anti-RH both win, then the Constitution has to be obeyed.

    The government will fund the RH services for all non-Catholics; the CBCP, for all Catholics.

  • Kate Deiparine

    NO TO RH BILL!!!!

  • Jose Rizal

    The president = the PORK…
    One cannot serve both God and PORK!
    Oink oink oink….
    The sloth president has already spoken…the RH Bill will surely pass…no doubt about it.
    Just list the PORKY Congressmen/women and don’t vote for them…this is not a retribution, this only means…WE DON’T LIKE THAT SMELLY PIGS in the Congress…and it’s democracy.
    I congratulate the PRO-RH for having the PORK…

    • Jose

      Please change your username.

      You go against everything Rizal stood for.

    • gmaisthebestpresident

      you should also congratulate all the ANTI-RH for receiving their pork also unless you want  to imply that only the PRO-RH had received pork barrel.

    • joshmale2004

      Hindi ka ba nagbabasa. Si Rodriguez mismo na ANTI RH ay umamin na walang threat ang Malacanang sa pag hold ng PORK.

    • buttones

      Hardly the words of Rizal boy, how dare you denigrate his name by your trashy comments- go out a get a resemblance of some sort of life boy before it’s too late….the comments of third world trash are not really welcome – be on your way…

  • George

    @’Jose Rizal’, please do not put an insult to the name. The hero is known for deep thinking guided by good reason which you are not capable of.

  • kuz_n_efek

    There’s another way to minimise the population growth in PH, give opportunity to the people, especially the marginalized individuals in the society, through proper distribution-with full accountability of tax payers’ monies to relevant agencies. If people have something else in their minds other than sex-driven impulses, then it would be a good diversion that needed to be properly addressed. In doing so, RH Bill is already irrelevant in our PH society. But before the Government has the capacity to give opportunities to its people, the tax payers’ monies should be properly collected. Hence, rampant Corruption in PH is the ultimate barrier of progress not overpopulation; it’s the real cause of poverty that leads to irresponsible parenthood. Ask yourself if you can give what you don’t have.       

  • palakasantayo

    To those absentee and would be absentee legislative voters, you got to be there to VOTE. Your constituents put you in that position to participate in this democratic process otherwise, you are betraying the people you are representing. If you don’t vote, you might as well disappear and never show your face anymore. This is a very important issue for future Philippines, be part of the mover and shaker generation.

  • Thomas Aquinas

    No to RH Bill!

  • Shutter


  • keyboard torres

    Yes to RH Bill..

  • filipinaskoh

    “Have they not heard of divine guidance? There is divine providence and the power of prayer,” – Rodriguez

    Divine providence?????

    All the reasons given by the opponents are out of SELFISH interest, if not IGNOMINIOUS.
    They are after the endorsement of Catholic prelates and are afraid to be branded satanic.
    Is this divine providence? Where is God’s Wisdom in it? Where is God’s guidance?

  • sugbu

    Philippine doesn’t need anymore of this ill conceive, moral corrupting,and redundant RH Bill.
    It is time to stop electing politicians with mental disorder…especially with vicious and moronic personalities(those who voted for RH)

  • joshmale2004

    Article II, Section 6 – The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. 
    Malinaw po ang nakasaad sa Constituion natin. Ngayon, kung titingnan mo ang ginagawa ng simbahang katoliko, napakalayo ito sa tinatawag na lobbying. Mas malinaw na ang ginagawa nila ay “COERCION”. Lobbying is akin to asking a favor while coercion is akin to intimidation or pressure to force to submit.
    Kung tutuusin, mas may karapatan tayong private persons whether pro or anti na maglobby sa Congress kasi nagbabayad tayo ng tax samantalang ang simbahang katoliko ay walang binabayarang tax. Hindi ka ba nagtataka bakit ang ibang religion (INC, JIL, Christian Ecumenical Churches, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, El Shaddai, Protestants, Lutherans, Aglipayans, Muslim) eh hindi nakikigulo sa mga nangyayari ngayon? Eto ay pwedeng pabor sila lahat sa RH Bill or kung hindi man sila pabor ay ni rerespeto nila separation ng church at State kaya dinadaan siguro nila sa taimtim na panalangin na wag maibatas ang RH Bill. Alin man sa dalawang stand nila, mas ka respe respeto kanilang kaparaanan.

    • sugbu

      Each of us Christians are part of the Church,insisting or ruling out that member’s opinion doesn’t exist…is misguided.

      • joshmale2004

        Noted sir. I am respecting and agreeing on your opinion. At least you are not like the other ANTIs who resort to calling bad names and profanities as their arguments on an issue.

      • sugbu

        I’m just an OFW,who had spare time…thank of luck.

    • rinom

      ang separation na sinasabi ay binalangkas ng mga tao na nagtatag ng US constitution sapagkat naranasan ang pagmamamlupit ng mga goberno sa EUROPE kung nagkasanib puwersa ang state at simbahan,,, so, gumawa sila ng constitution na ang goberno ay walang I re recognize the simbahan, meaning walang government funds na pupunta sa simbahan.
      pero and simbahan pwede po na maghain ng complain o iparating sa gobyerno and kanilang mga hinaing.

      • joshmale2004

        Thank you for the information Sir. At least, you are different from other ANTIs who can not make proper and sound arguments and instead resort to name callings and profanities. You have my respect.

  • Edgardo Mendoza


  • Edgardo Mendoza


  • Edgardo Mendoza


    • rinom

      ang separation po ay sa paggamit ng pundo. ang goberno ay hindi dapat mag recognize ng isang religion lamang,,, o kaya ay ganito, kung ang state at simbahan ay nagsanib pwersa, katulad sa nangyari sa Europe,,ang mga mamamayan nagging kawawa sa pangaabuso ng dalawa,,, pero hindi nangangahulugan na ang separation ay bawal mag express ng saloobin.

      • Myls Esller Escandor Garcia

        bakit ba nakikialam ang mga katoliko…o ang simbahan ng katoliko..ang iba bang sekta o relihiyon andyan ba sa printira ng kaguluhang ito… my freedom of choice tayo…kaya kung gusto makialam ng simbahang katoliko magbayad kayo ng buwis..kasi bawal yan sa mata ng Diyos..sinasali nyo siya…

      • rinom

        God is greater than all of us, he made the universe how can you separate Him from us?

  • esther


  • rinom

    sa mga pro, ito po ang tanong ko,,, sino po ang nagsabi o saan ninyo nakuha ang prinsipyo,, na kung kakaunti ang population ay guarantee na ito sa magandang buhay?

    • Myls Esller Escandor Garcia

      ako rinom..nakita ko dito sa europa…maganda ang buhay nila kasi ang consumer ay tama lang..masasaya ang mga bata kasi nababantayan sila ng mga magulang nabibigyan ng trabaho ang mga alang try mo na ba tumira sa ibang bansa na mga mayaman…tingnan mo ang pagkakaiba…

      • Marc Vandrick

        kaya cguro may human extinction sa europa.. ? are we really over populated dito sa pinas?

      • rinom

        magtanong ka ng 60 to 70 anyos na tao diyan ilang ang kapatid nila,,, malamang ang sagot ay 5 to 7 brothers and sisters. magtanong ka naman ng medyo bata edad 20 to 30 years old, ilan ang kapatid niya,, malamang ang sagot wala o isa lang. tanong po, bakit may economic crisis din po diyan?

  • Hein S

    When the RH Bill was approved in ITALY, the pope was QUIET.
    Why are these lowly bishops so NOISY?

    • Albin

      The Pope is in the independent state of the vatican. He has no political clout in italy.

  • disqusted0fu

    Aquino’s certification of this bill as urgent, and the presence of Roxas and his gang at congress makes it almost impossible to block the passage of this bill. i would appreciate these kind of efforts that the Aquino administration are showing if this was for the FOI bill that they seem to be rather killing.  

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