Senator suggests new poll on RH measure
MANILA, Philippines—With the reproductive health (RH) bill threatening to deepen the rift between the Catholic Church and Malacañang, another survey should be done to gauge the true sentiments of the people on the measure, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Monday.
Zubiri said a new survey was necessary since debates in the House of Representatives had revealed new information about the salient features of the population control bill.
“It’s too divisive an issue, and majority of our people would want to stop this fighting. We should rethink our position as legislators. There should be a survey so that we may be guided accordingly,” he said in an interview.
“As national legislators, we should listen to our constituents. We can’t be blind and deaf to what the people are saying,” he added.
Some Catholic bishops and Malacañang have locked horns over the measure that appears to have higher chances of getting passed by Congress this time with President Benigno Aquino III’s endorsement.
The approval of the RH bill in the House will provide the momentum for its passage in the Senate, otherwise it will be pointless to debate it, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.
With the apparent overwhelming support of lawmakers, the House version of the population control measure “seems headed for a win,” said Santiago, author of the RH bill in the Senate.
“If the RH bill is passed in the House, the political momentum will be carried over to the Senate. The senators will realize that the surveys are correct, and that the majority of the public support RH as part of every individual’s freedom of conscience,” she said.
Otherwise, she added, it would be “pointless” to debate the bill in the Senate.
Debate on the bill has gone full swing in the House, while the Senate has yet to start its plenary deliberations since the committee report on the bill has yet to be sponsored on the floor.
Santiago also said that the Senate health committee should also tackle bills recently filed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Vicente Sotto III and Jinggoy Estrada seeking to protect the unborn child.
“We should proceed with all deliberate speed, because if we do not grant the oppositors a public hearing, they might resort to procedural technicalities which would delay the plenary debate,” she said.
Sen. Francis Escudero said he was keeping an open mind on the measure—like Senators Zubiri, Joker Arroyo, Antonio Trillanes IV and Franklin Drilon.
“No version has come out for us to vote on,” he told reporters. “I’m looking for clear provisions against abortion. The government should be passive and must not push for any method. The government should not interfere with what happens in the room of couples, and sex education should not be earlier than first year high school.”
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