House waits for Aquino's go signal on RH

10/01/2010 - THE leadership of the House of Representatives wanted President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to certify the urgency of the consolidated Reproductive Health (RH) Bill filed by several lawmakers.

On Thursday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said: "I think it is okay to ask the President, to request him if he can certify the urgency of the bill. Anyway, he has bitten the bullet already on it.”

“To be very frank, the stand of the President will have some influence on the bill which is now pending along with others with the same nature," he added.

Aquino earlier announced his plan to distribute contraceptives to poor couples while stating that the government is obligated to inform the people of their responsibilities on parenthood.

“The attention on the RH bill has been rekindled by the remarks of the President," Belmonte noted.

Aquino's statements drew criticisms from the Catholic Church who threatened to launch protests against the government if the RH bill is enacted into law.

Earlier, lawmakers who filed separate versions of RH bills urged Aquino to take a stand on the matter to ensure the early passage of the bill.

Among those who filed were House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman and Representative Janette Garin (first district, Iloilo).

Belmonte meanwhile clarified that the House has not set a timetable concerning the passage of the controversial bill.

He assured the consolidated RH measure will reach third reading wherein members of the House will have the opportunity to debate on the matter and express the views on the issue.

During his stint as Quezon City mayor, Belmonte, along with Representatives Winston Castelo (second district) and Jorge "Bolet" Banal (third district), passed a city ordinance providing citizens with birth-control devices.

"Everyone has to assess but we ourselves have assessed it in the past and we are willing to take the risk again," Belmonte stressed.

But the Palace said Aquino cannot certify for the urgency of the hotly-debated bill.

"We can easily get a copy of the bill but it is unfair to certify it without reviewing it," said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

The proposed policy aims to provide Filipino couples of contraceptives to control the country’s growing birth rate.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocacy groups are ramping out efforts to prevent the Aquino administration from pursuing its population management program.

Prolife Philippines Foundation president Eric Manalang said in a statement that the moves include holding seminars about the morality of contraception to marching in the streets
(Sun Star)

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