Bicam panel approves RH bill

THE bicameral conference committee on Tuesday “hastily” approved the final version of the controversial Reproductive Health bill with no major alterations on separate version of both Houses of Congress.

In a press conference after the signing of the reconciled version, Senator Pia Cayetano, principal sponsor and co-author of the bill, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, said that the bill will be sign into law before the year ends.

“I am confident that President (Benigno) Aquino will sign the measure into before the year end,” Lagman said.

Under the reconciled version, all mothers can get their contraceptives including pills and condoms from any government run hospitals and barangay health centers.

However, teens are only allowed to avail contraceptives only with parental consent. But, teens that have a live-in partner or have a child are allowed to avail contraceptives without parental approval. Minors are not allowed access to all forms of contraceptives such as condoms and pills.

For the RH education, the law mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) to come-up with guidelines for mandatory teaching of the reproductive health in all public schools.

But for the private school, the law provides a provision that they can adopt the guidelines issued by the government.

Public hospitals are mandated to distribute contraceptives for free, but optional for private health institutions. Part of the budget will be sourced from the Sin tax law.

Also, Sen. Ralph Recto’s amendment was deleted particularly a provision mandating local government units (LGUs) to implement the RH law in coordination and cooperation with the national government.

“Under the reconciled version, LGUs in coordination and cooperation of the Department of Heath are mandated to implement the law,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano also said that the phrase “safe, and satisfying, consensual sex life was retained. The word consensual was added by the House panel.

Aside from Cayetano, those who signed the reconciled version are Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Francis Pangilinan, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Minority Leadere Alan Peter Cayetano.

From the House panel were Representatives Rogelio Espina Jr. (Chair), Cesar Sarmiento, Henedina Abad, Janette Garin, Edcel Lagman, Danilo Suarez, Teddy Baguilat, Kaka Bag-ao, and Antonio Tinio.

DOH Secretary Enrique Ona and Ass’t Secretary Eric Tayag, witnessed the signing ceremony.

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