pork barrel

Aquino in no hurry to sign RH bill

By |

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III, who had a falling out with the leadership of the influential Catholic Church for pushing for the passage of the reproductive health (RH) bill, seemed to be in no rush to sign the measure, which was finally passed last week by both chambers of Congress.

In a radio interview, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said her boss has yet to sign the RH bill, whose bicameral version was ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives before adjourning for their traditional Christmas break last Thursday.

She assured the public, however, that the consolidated version of House Bill No. 4244 and Senate Bill No. 2865 would be definitely signed by the President “before the end of the year.”


Few more days won’t hurt

Valte said a few more days would not hurt RH advocates, considering that the measure had already hurdled 13 years of legislative debates.

“The long (awaited), the very hotly contested and acrimonious, the long been discussed—perhaps, for 10 million years—Responsible Parenthood Bill was passed under the leadership of President Aquino. He will sign it before the end of the year,” Valte said.

With the long weekend, the President won’t be back in Malacañang until the next working day (Dec. 26), a Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday have been declared as a nonworking day and regular holiday, respectively.

Valte said she has yet to receive advice from the Office of the President when Mr. Aquino is due to sign it.

Certified as urgent

The measure affords everyone universal access to modern family planning methods, giving a woman the choice to determine the number of her children, meeting a teenager’s need to be protected from an unplanned pregnancy and educating citizens about sexual health.

On Dec. 14, the day after the House passed HB 4244 on second reading, President Aquino certified the measure as urgent, ensuring the enactment of the controversial measure that had pitted the Aquino administration against many of the fiercely conservative leaders of the Catholic Church.

The presidential imprimatur cut short the process in the plenary, emboldening three women senators—Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Pia Cayetano and Loren Legarda—to press for the passage of SB 2865. The chamber eventually passed the measure, 13-8, late Monday.

No force more powerful

“There is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come and that idea today is the RH bill,” Santiago said.

In certifying the measure, Mr. Aquino said it was time for Congress to decide on the bill based on a “conscience” vote.

In an interview with reporters in Malacañang last week, the President said he wants the divisive issue settled before the start of the new year.

The President had expected that the certification would ensure the passage of the measure in both chambers of Congress since it removed the three-day rule—or waiting period—between the second and third readings of the pending bill.

The President said that anti-RH groups had not put forward a viable solution to the runaway population growth, save for a blanket denial of the bill’s benefits.

“At the end of the day, what I heard from RH bill opponents is that they don’t suggest that if you have a problem, here’s the solution. They always say, ‘you can’t do that, you can’t do this, you can’t do everything,’” said Mr. Aquino.


‘There’s really a way’

“So if you have a problem there must be a solution, and I think the RH bill presents, especially this massively amended form, that there’s really a way to address a situation like this. Can anybody here imagine that this 18-year-old lady (in a slum area in Baseco compound, Tondo, Manila,) will be able to improve the lot of her three offspring?

“Is she capable of raising them and giving them opportunities? If we do nothing, the three (children), in their turn, will repeat the same mistakes, will be in a worse situation, will produce more children who will face a much harsher situation. That’s why I really feel that we have to address the problem, and not pretend we’re ostriches,” he said.

The President also shared his belief that “genuine leaders” could not put off a decision on a “divisive issue.”

“The issue has been divisive for too long; the time has come to put the matter to rest,” the President said.

Follow Us

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: Benigno Aquino III , President Aquino , Reproductive Health Bill , RH bill

  • speaksoftlylove

    “The long been discussed – perhaps, for 10 million years – Responsible Parenthood Bill has been passed under the leadership of President Aquino.”

    Really? I did not know that we have an ancient document in the palace detailing the discussion by T Rex, other dinosaurs and the apemen  on the issue of Responsible Parenthood. 10 million years? Ang dami talagang nasiraan sa Mayan calendar.

    • Winzum Daoas

      He is just speaking metaphorically. If you are incapable of understanding or doing that yourself, don’t resent those who can. 

      • andrew lim

        Spitfire is just too juvenile and petty to understand that. Besides, 10 million years ago is too early, as dinosaurs came much, much earlier, about 650 million years back.

        Pikon na sa pagkatalo sa RH, mali pa science.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/NV25ZPWMBDYFXEYR3AWQ43ZS5E Hein S

      Spitfire, you are a WANBOL U. Graduate.

  • PowerToThePeople11

    To: spitfire

    It’s what we call figure of speech.  Hyperbole to be specific.
    It’s like when you meet someone you haven’t seen for a long time in the street, and he will say ” My God, I haven’t seen you for a million years!”.
    He didn’t really mean that way literally.
    Human beings don’t live for a million years, in case you don’t know.
    Now, that was a lesson in English for you, honey.  Libre yan. Pasalamat ka my parents used family planning, so my sibling and I had all the education, shelter and clothing we need.

    I don’t have to charge you, kasi I have a good job, and you probably need the money more.

    • NoyAbnoy

      Ang taray mo sis!

    • speaksoftlylove

      To all the pinheads, that would have been a metaphor if the little lady had not preceded it with with a word “perhaps.” Lasing lang yang bata mo, aminin mo.

  • andrew lim

    I hope Pres. Aquino signs the RH bill into law on December 30, Rizal’s execution day in Bagumbayan.  For a bill with such historical significance, it is fitting he sign it on a day when our national hero had to give up his life for his country.

    Im aware of the arguments of the anti-RH that Rizal would have been anti-RH, but Im referring to the struggles of patriots against tyrants in the Spanish government and the Church hierarchy.

    It’s also for Emilio Jacinto, the Gomburza priests, Andres Bonifacio, etc who suffered under the Spanish regime and the Catholic church hierarchy at the time.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NV25ZPWMBDYFXEYR3AWQ43ZS5E Hein S

    JOSE RIZAL will be smiling in his grave.

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