CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS INTENSIFY CALL FOR PLENARY VOTING ON THE RH BILL
With only a few session days remaining before Congress breaks again in October 16, agitated reproductive health advocates trooped to the House of Representatives to intensify their call for the continuation of plenary hearings and subsequent voting on of the controversial reproductive health bill.
Leaders of various non-government and civil society organizations have started to mass up at the Lower House since yesterday, and this will continue every session day, to show Speaker Prospero Nograles and other lawmakers the broad and solid mass support for the passage of the reproductive health bill.
Elizabeth Angsioco, Secretary General of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) expressed frustration on the dilly-dallying of the plenary hearing of House Bill 5043 or the “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2009” principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman.
According to Angsioco this bill has been pending for the continuation of plenary debates and voting since early this year. “Speaker Nograles, in many of his media interviews, gave assurances that the bill is among the priorities of the House. However, the RH Bill has not been touched since the opening of sessions on July 27. ”We waited” said Angsioco “but our patience did not bear fruit. We are now deeply concerned given that time is running out.”
Angsioco further said, “we are now calling on Speaker Nograles to immediately expedite plenary debates and vote on the measure before Congress breaks. We know that most Members of the House already have clear positions on the Bill.”
“In fact, the RH Bill now has 132 co-authors and about 20 others who pledged support for the bill against about 50 legislators who are anti-RH. All questions have been asked and adequately answered. Now is the time to vote on the measure despite the obvious delaying tactics used by anti-RH House of Representatives members,” explained Angsioco.
Angsioco stressed, “we are concerned that when Congress resumes in November, it will be occupied with the approval of the 2010 government budget and then after that, lawmakers will spend their time in their districts for the election campaign.”
“The legislative process should not be held hostage by the few, who are against the bill,” concluded Angsioco .”###
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