Advocates confident of RH bill’s passage

ADVOCATES of the Reproductive Health Bill trooped on Thursday at the Philippine Senate, expressing confidence that the controversial measure would be passed into law under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

”We’re confident that the RH bill will be passed under the Aquino administration,” former senator and now Muntinlupa congressman Rodolfo Biazon said in a press conference at the Senate lounge.

Biazon said some 90 congressmen co-authored while 160 have already expressed support to House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health Bill which has been discussed since the 10th Congress.

”The reason why I ran again in Congress is to file this (RH) bill. And this is my first bill I filed along with national security bills. And I think in this 15th Congress, the bill will be passed,” Biazon said.

The bill proponents that include congresswoman Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel and former Health Secretary Esparanza Cabral have expressed that from 72 percent a year ago, survey showed that 82 percent of Filipinos are supportive of family planning under the RH bill.

“I am hoping that President Aquino will keep his promise during campaign period to support the reproductive health,” Baraquel said.

Cabral, also former secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said government must take a stand on the bill through educating the public on the importance of family planning.

In their position paper, members of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) urged the President Aquino to keep his promise to support reproductive health.

”If President Aquino is indeed supportive of the issue, he must show political will, be it including the RH bill in his priority policy agenda,” DSWP national chairperson Elizabeth Angsioco said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) asked the Aquino government to make RH as one of the priority legislative agenda.

”The inclusion of reproductive health bill in the list, no matter how tentative, is an acceptance that RH is a policy requisite to attain sustained growth, effectively address poverty and achieve equitable development as envisioned by the Aquino administration,” Ramon San Pascual, PLCPD executive director, said.

Dr. Junice Melgar of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) said long deliberation on the measure is no longer necessary since it has already gone through a decade of stakeholders’ consultations, public hearings, congressional debates and broad media coverage.

”The bill enjoys the broad support of women, youth, labor, business, academe, interfaith organizations, NGO community and even secretly by individual Catholic leaders. We don’t see any reason for delaying its passage,” Melgar said.

After the press conference, the RH bill supporters stayed in the Senate to attend the afternoon committee hearing which will discuss the Senate’s counterpart RH bill, Senate Bill No. 2378, filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

The Senate committee on health and demography chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano will lead the second public hearing on the measure. PNA


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