[In the news]120 congressmen now support RH bill, according to unofficial count – Interaksyon.com

120 congressmen now support RH bill, according to unofficial count – Interaksyon.com.

Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — By an unofficial count of some neophyte members of the House of Representatives, 120 lawmakers now support the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

In a news conference Wednesday, ACT Teachers partylist Representative Antonio Tinio said the 120 lawmakers, which include the 97 who were co-authors of the bill, are expected to increase as more get exposed to the issues behind the controversial measure during debates in plenary.

Some 90 lawmakers are opposed to the bill, while about 60 are still undecided, Tinio added.

The House has 284 members.  A majority vote is needed to pass the bill on second reading.

DIWA partylist Representative Emmeline Aglipay said that among the 140 neophytes, 20 have already firmed up their position to back the bill.

“As neophytes, we want to express out voices, too, in supporting the bill,” she said, adding they will participate in the deliberations in plenary when given the chance.

Manila Representative Sandy Ocampo said that lawmakers are discussing among themselves the bill and some are “convincing each other” to either support or junk the bill.

Gabriela partylist Representative Emmi de Jesus said the RH bill covers the advocacy of the group for women empowerment.

“Asserting women’s full access to reproductive health services and programs should not be reduced to just the issue of contraceptives. We need to focus on our universal respect for the human life. We need to ensure that the phenomenon of 11 women dying each day due to pregnancy-related causes will become a thing of the past. Indeed, we don’t want to be short of responsibility to our constituents,” she said.

Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said the passage of the bill would put in place a policy on a reproductive health and responsible parenthood that the country needs to address concerns on poverty and maternal health.

Plenary debates started Tuesday with at least 38 lawmakers opposed to the bill enlisting for interpellation.

Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna called on his colleagues to “stick only to secular issues and debate on empirical facts that can be analyzed and measured” so that the debates will have a conclusion.

“We have to reign the debates to stay on a reasonable level and avoid dragging God and the heavens into the issue,” he said. “Questions on the deliberation must be limited to secular questions, not on morals, beliefs and religion. Debates must be issue based and not on belief in God.”


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