Congress ratifies final version of RH billBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of the Representatives on Wednesday night ratified the final version of the Reproductive Health bill that would provide government funding for contraceptives and sexuality classes in schools.
At the House, lawmakers ratified the measure via ayes and nays voting, and Speaker Belmonte declared the ayes have it.
To become a law, the reconciled report on the measure will be sent to President Benigno Aquino III for signing.
At the Senate, 11 senators adopted the bicameral committee report on the bill while five senators reiterated their vote against it.
The 11 senators were Pia Cayetano, Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Joker Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Teofisto Guingona III, Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos Jr., Loren Legarda, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, and Sergio Osmeña III.
Osmeña was sick and could not vote on the bill when the Senate voted on it on third and final reading last Monday.
The five who reiterated their ‘no vote’ were Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Gringo Honasan.
It was Senator Pia Cayetano, head of the Senate committee on health, and on women, who reported on the floor the outcome of the bicameral meeting held hours before the ratification.
Cayetano said the following salient features of the measure were approved in the bicam:
- Any person will be allowed access to Reproductive Health and family planning services except minors unless they have the consent of their parents or guardians. A minor, who is already a parent or one has had a miscarriage, would also be allowed access to RH services.
- All public healthcare facilities are mandated under the measure to provide family planning method “without prejudice to private healthcare facilities extending the same…”
- The measure also required mandatory RH education to adolescents aged between 10 and 19 in all public school. The Department of Education will formulate the curriculum for public schools also “without prejudice to private schools adopting the same.”
- Local government units, under the measure, will be “encouraged to comply with their mandate to provide healthcare service…with funding and other kind of assistance from the national government.
- The measure also made it clear that it would not promote nor condone abortion.
“And finally for the curiosity and the pleasure of the body, the term ‘safe and satisfying sex was retained and this was further improved and it’s now read ‘responsible, consensual, safe and satisfying sex,” Cayetano said.
No senator objected when she moved to adopt the bicameral report.
But Enrile stood up and reiterated his no vote on the bill.
“Consistent with my remarks when I voted on third reading on this bill, I will register a negative vote on the committee report,” he said.
Sotto, Estrada and Pimentel also stood up and reiterated their “no vote” on the measure.