Senate health body to wait for new RH bill
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Pia Cayetano is willing to convene the health committee which she chairs to tackle bills seeking to protect the unborn child to avoid any technicality during the debate on the reproductive health bill.
While she has wrapped up hearings on the RH bill, Cayetano said she was willing to reconvene the committee to hear the related bills filed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada.
Sen. Ralph Recto has also filed a bill to ensure the safety of unborn children, especially from abortive acts, “from the moment of conception and during all stages of development while inside the mother’s womb.”
This brought to four the number of senators who have filed their own versions of the “Protection of the Unborn Child Act.” Recto’s Senate Bill No. 2584 specifically intends to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child from conception.”
“If my colleagues feel better that we hear these to tie up some areas that they feel are not connected, why not?” Cayetano, chair of the Senate Health Committee, said in an interview.
Sotto III on Tuesday said Recto’s measure could be “reconciled” with the RH bill of his colleagues to come up with a compromise version.
“To me, they are easy to reconcile,” Sotto told the Inquirer. “One, let us remove the mandate for the use of contraceptives. Two, let’s not allow taxpayers’ money to be used for the purchase of contraceptives. Then we keep the rest of the RH bill, the provision for maternal health and all.”
But Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, author of the RH bill, said the proposed Protection of the Unborn Child Act “probably will be treated as a completely separate bill” during deliberations.
Santiago described as “non-negotiable” the idea that “the Filipino woman must have access to full information” on all forms of family planning methods.”
“That is the bottom line,” she said. “All we’re asking for is a chance to tell her about other methods, apart from natural (family) planning, which is espoused by the Catholic Church. So the most that you could concede there is that we should first give priority to family planning when we educate women…and we will say that the Catholic Church is against all other methods of contraception.”
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