House to set rules for RH debate – passage now or never
looks like the passage of the RH Bill will soon come to a head. the bill has been in congress for a very long time and with the long delay credit is given to its opponents as they have been successful in delaying it forever.
we hope congress will finally act on it.
House to set rules for RH debate
It’s now or never for controversial bill—solons
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:12:00 09/22/2009
MANILA, Philippines—The leadership of the House of Representatives will meet on Tuesday to finalize the rules and procedures for the debates on the reproductive health bill in order to bring the controversial measure to a vote before the 14th Congress adjourns next year.
According to Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor, proponents and opponents of the measure will meet with Speaker Prospero Nograles Tuesday to discuss how to tackle the bill after some of the opponents rejected the proposal to form two panels to handle the plenary debates.
Nograles earlier ordered the formation of two panels representing backers and opponents of the bill in order to simplify the debates. He also said that both sides should agree to a timetable so that “personal divisive emotional matters” would not hamper the process, and voting would be able to take place.
If debates are prolonged and voting does not take place before the end of the 14th Congress, the reproductive health bill will have to be refiled in the next Congress, which would then have to repeat the entire process of committee and plenary debates.
The Catholic Church has been campaigning hard to defeat the bill, which allows the promotion of both natural and artificial birth control methods in government health centers and mandates sex education classes in all schools.
But one of those opposed to the bill, Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, rejected Nograles’ proposal to form two panels. During a meeting of the rules committee last week, Del Mar said there were many House members who wanted to interpellate the supporters of the measure, according to Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
Garin, who was at the meeting and is one of the backers of the reproductive health bill, suggested that the opponents could bring in as many as 20 members to their panel, even though the proponents would only have about five members in theirs. But, she added, the opponents wanted to discuss the procedures with Nograles himself.
Defensor said the matter would be brought before the Speaker.
“We will meet with the Speaker. The Speaker is responsible for the agenda. He is the one who controls the agenda. We’ll try to find common ground so that it will be an orderly, civil debate,” he said in a phone interview.
But Defensor stressed that the 14th Congress would have to take a stand on the measure, whether voting to kill it or to approve it, especially since the measure has been pending since the 11th Congress.
“The Speaker wants a vote. If it loses, then it loses. Let’s face the issue, let’s address the issue so that [the debates] would not be acrimonious and would not be too lengthy. We want to act on it with dispatch, [or] we will be charged with sleeping on it, and that is a dereliction of duty,” he said.
Asked if he thought that the lawmakers would vote on the bill even though it might become an election issue, Defensor said that members of the House “should be given more credit.”
“Do not underestimate the congressmen. There are congressmen who are not afraid to take a stand and want the reproductive health bill. They believe it does not promote abortion or a one-child or two-child policy. They just want people to have an informed choice,” he said.
Garin also said Monday that it was time for the House to take a categorical stand on the reproductive health bill, and said that lawmakers could not expect to please everybody.
“In the process of legislation, you can’t please all sectors. You really have to decide, you have to choose,” she said.
read more about the RH Bill 5043 here: http://2010presidentiables.wordpress.com/reproductive-health-bill-5043/