No delay but RH bill won’t be passed this year—Enrile
By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Are opponents of the reproductive health (RH) bill intentionally delaying the passage of the measure or are its proponents simply in a hurry?
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday doubted Senate Bill No. 2865 would be passed by the chamber before Congress goes on its Christmas break in two weeks.
But he made it clear that he and the other senators who had expressed reservations about the bill were not trying to delay its passage.
“I don’t think it will pass this year,” he said at the weekly Senate media forum. “There are (still) many issues to be clarified. We are not delaying it.”
Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III earlier cried foul over the allegation of Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, cosponsors of SB 2865, that some senators were trying to torpedo the bill.
On Monday, Cayetano took the floor and manifested her desire to move for the termination of the period of interpellation. “There do not seem to be any other senators who have indicated their desire to interpellate,” she had said.
“I take exception to the fact that they mentioned the word ‘delay,’” Sotto said. “The last thing I would want to do is not discuss the RH bill. I want to discuss it because I want an intelligent vote from the members of the Senate. I want them to find out more about the bill, like what is happening in the House (of Representatives).”
Still in line to interpellate Cayetano and Santiago are Sotto, Enrile, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Lito Lapid. Lacson is the principal author of another version of the RH bill.
“We are not delaying. We still have plenty of questions… I have just started discussing the economic impact of this bill because I am concentrating on the population aspect. I have not yet dealt with the religious aspect. There is (also) a security aspect in this bill,” Enrile said.
“I would support this bill if it is only to provide health measures to womanhood. But this has an impact on our country and its future, not only in terms of health but (also) in terms of economic growth, its security and viability as a country.”
Early this year, the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) received P4.4 million from the United Nations Population Fund to push for the passage of the RH bill before the end of 2011. Dr. Junice Melgar, RHAN secretary general, admitted that her group solicited the amount because it “has no ongoing funding.”
Based on RHAN’s budget proposal, the amount was to be spent on activities such as “education and mobilization” program. One item worth P2,837,500 was to go to organize “two nationally coordinated (and) high-profile mobs.”
The group scheduled the “peak” of its pro-RH rally for September and set aside P1,750,000 to organize a rally of “at least 5,000 people.” Each participant was supposed to receive P350.