News alert: The start of the plenary debate on the RH bill is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 15, 4:00 pm at the main session hall. This is the only debate that will take place before Congress adjourns on March 23. The remaining session days after March 15 will be set for the impeachment of Ombudsman Mercy Gutierrez.
In the morning (11:00 am) , there will be a media photo-op in front of the South wing gate, if you wish to attend. It will be a dramatization on how anti-RH legislators obstruct the deliberation of the RH bill and the effects of the delay.
It seems that the silent majority supporting the passage of the RH bill are crying “foul” over some legislators who are opposed to the passing of a comprehensive reproductive health program who seems to use “intimidating and delaying” tactics in all forms with the hope that congress will fail to act on the bill before the scheduled March 23 recess.
Pro-RH advocates of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN), considered the nation’s largest network of organizations and individuals lobbying for the passage of the reproductive health law, will stage a protest against these “obstructionist” legislators at the South Wing gate of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 11:00 am.
Dr. Junice L.D. Melgar, the secretary-general of RHAN says, “Anti-RH legislators should put up intelligent arguments against the bill, not foolish schemes to obstruct the process. If they keep up with these silly stunts, the public will realize they don’t have any substantive arguments and will likely lose should the RH Bill be put to a vote now. They say they oppose the RH Bill on moral grounds, yet they have no qualms about using farcical and dirty tricks to circumvent the debates and voting. This is very un-statesmanlike!”
The 1-hour protest action at the gate will feature large caricatures of legislators standing guard over roadblocks they have set up against the RH bill, and a bishop watching over the scene. Protesters will carry placards which say “Kayo ay mambabatas, hindi mambabara!” (“You are lawmakers, not law-blockers!”) and “Kung wala nang maikatwiran, ituloy na ang botohan!” (“If you have run out of arguments, let’s have the voting now!”). Protesting women will attempt to breach the roadblock, and will dramatize the deadly consequences of delays in the approval of the RH bill.
Ms. Lina Bacalando, resident of Brgy. Tonsuya in Malabon and one of the leaders of RHAN, says “Eleven women, most of them poor, are dying each day from maternal complications. Yet, these lawmakers are having fun delaying the plenary debates. They don’t seem to care that they are playing with our lives. If they have nothing more to say, they should submit the RH Bill to a vote. All we’re asking for is the chance to have an RH law!”
At 4 pm on the same day, 500 or more RH supporters, all wearing signature purple scarves, will fill half of the House plenary hall to press for the smooth progression of the first day of debates on the RH bill.