Senate votes 13-8 for RH bill on final reading
MANILA, Philippines—Voting 13-8 with no abstention, the Senate on Monday passed the controversial Reproductive Health bill on third and final reading.
The 13 senators who voted in favor of the bill were Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos Jr., Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Ralph Recto.
The eight who voted against it were Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senators Gringo Honasan, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Manuel “Manny” Villar, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV.
Senators Serge Osmena III and Lito Lapid were absent during the voting.
Arroyo said he voted yes “conditionally” as he threatened to change his vote if the amendments by the Senate will not be retained in the bicameral conference committee.
He noted that the original versions of the Senate and the House of Representatives were “onerous’ and “so provocative” that one, he said, could not expect the Catholic Church to surrender its doctrinal and moral position on the life and death issue without putting up a fight.
The bill without amendments, Arroyo said, was “vulnerable to constitutional challenge especially on religious grounds.”
“The Court may strike down even the good provisions along with the bad,” he said.
And to address those weaknesses, Arroyo said the Senate introduced “reasonable” amendments to make sure the measure was “less dogmatic, less provocative and more constitutionally accepted.”
“Many of these amendments were mislabelled as killer amendments. I can see none that are,” he said.
Arroyo added, “I hope they will be respected in the bicameral conference committee rather than dismissed out of hand for I shall change my vote I cast today should that happen. I vote yes, conditionally.”
Escudero said he voted for the bill because he wanted “each and every newborn Filipino to be given a fair and equal chance to uplift and improve their lives.”
“Saying yes to the passing of the RH Bill does not make one corrupt or evil,” he said.
Stressing that he did not condone pre-marital sex and abortion, Escudero said, “As a father, I will work hard to ensure that I teach them (his children) the right values in life and with the RH bill, to arm them with knowledge so they can ably decide for themselves.”
In voting against the bill, Revilla recalled how he and his wife, Lani Marcado, lost a daughter in 1990 due to complications.
He said his wife was using pills before she gave birth to Maria Alexandra, who just lived for 26 days because of heart problems.
“Life is a gift, a blessing. Not a curse,” Revilla said.
Enrile, who has been against the measure, said he was uncertain about the future of the country with the passage of the bill.
“Maybe on the short term, this bill will really lessen poverty, or wipe poverty, reduce it to a certain level, I do not know,” he said.
But he said his conscience and notion of what is the long-term interest of the country impelled him to cast a no vote on the bill.
“I hope that my position will not be proven right. I hope to God those who proposed it will be proven right but as I said, the future is unpredictable, uncertain and only time will tell where lies the truth, and all that,” he said.
Estrada said he voted against the bill even at the risk of earning the ire of his parents—former President Joseph Estrada and former Senator Loi Ejercito—who are pro-RH.
Originally posted at 07:42 pm | Monday, December 17, 2012
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