Reproductive Health (RH) bill advocates commend the Senate for finally ending the debate on the proposed measure to give way to the period of amendments. Since the RH bill is a joint referral from three committees of the Senate, the period of amendments will allow the Committee on Health and Demography, Committee on Finance and the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations to introduce the amendments based on the results of the interpellations and individual suggestions of the Senators concerned. It will then move towards voting on the final form of the bill.
According to Romeo Dongeto, Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), one of the leading proponents of the measure, advocates and supporters of the RH bill, have long been waiting for the day that the long debate and repetitive questions will finally end.
“We are glad that finally they ended the debates,” said Dongeto. “We are looking forward to seeing the final version that will be up for voting. After all, this measure has been subjected to debates for more than 10 years already and all possible questions have been raised and answered by the contending parties within and outside the halls of Congress.
Dongeto stressed, “we hope to see a version that will truly address the reproductive health needs of women and uplift the quality of life of Filipino families.” Dongeto emphasized that through the stewardship of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a watered-down version is far from happening.
“We salute these lady Senators, who despite the strong opposition of high ranking Catholic Bishops and officials, has remained firm and managed to win over the strong opposition of some Senators who are poised to further delay the measure,” he said. “This is another victory and a new milestone in more than 10 years of struggle to enact a law that will institutionalize comprehensive reproductive health education and services for the Filipino people.”
Meanwhile, Dongeto said that advocates are now calling on the leadership of the House of Representatives to do their part. “The Senate has shown that despite differences of opinions, and much heavy load because of the Corona impeachment trial, our lawmakers have managed to do their job to move forward a highly contentious bill. This is what political will and leadership is all about.”
“It is ironic that the House of Representatives, who first passed the measure on the Committee level and started the plenary debates in 2011, is still stuck on it owing to the delaying tactics of the anti-RH district representatives.” Dongeto concluded.