House members reflect on RH bill’s approval
AS the nation awaits the inevitable enactment of “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011,” it would never be a wasteful exercise to take a second look at the points raised during the long and sometimes excruciating debates among lawmakers, both pros and antis.
The long and winding public and plenary debates which ate some 13 years and prior Congresses, Speaker Belmonte said, reflected the strength and vitality of Philippine democracy because everyone got his time to speak out.
“In a democracy like ours, what is important is allowing the more superior ideas to prevail,” Belmonte said.
Herewith are excerpts from interviews of lawmakers during and following the final plenary vote on House Bill 4244:
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro): “We still strongly feel against it. But we always abide by the majority. We do not have concrete actions yet but we will continuously oppose it. We will regroup ourselves after Christmas. We should face and enjoy Christmas first and after that we will resume the fight. We believe, this piece of legislation is not good for our country, it will destroy the moral fiber of our country, we are going into a liberal society, where everything goes, and so after this, we will have divorce, the same sex marriage, abortion then euthanasia and we are trying to fight that.”
Rep. Reena Concepcion Obilla (Party-list, Una Ang Pamilya): “I will be on the watch for I want the real essence of RH bill to be effectively implemented. My party, UNA ANG PAMILYA feels that there are so many other ways to uplift the lives of all the families in the country. I voted No for I believe there are other laws that are just sitting and waiting to be fully executed/implemented. Maybe the lack of funds or information dissemination to our people is just some of the reasons these laws are not fully utilized.”
Rep. Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar): “The Filipino people are the real wealth of our country, the best asset that our country possesses. So why should we limit this asset.
I am a professor in economics and basically there are 4 factors of production which I teach every day — land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship. Reduce one, and we will have less production. Two of the four factors are human resources, labor and entrepreneurship, so why should we reduce population, when we should increase it to increase production.
If we have lesser overseas workers, our unsung heroes, definitely the country will be receiving fewer remittances. The OFW’s have saved our economy for right now, the country is receiving remittances from OFWs – 12 to 15B dollars, yearly, kung wala sila bangkarote na ang ating ekonomiya.
China is a world economic power, because they are bigger in population, next is India, admittedly, the second economic power in the world because they are next to China and might top China because of the population control, a discipline (not through law), the China government is pushing its people through their department of education. Like buying food for three (parents and a child) could cost 1yuan but buying the same food more than allotted for three, will cost 2 Yuan. Japan, with a smaller territory than the Philippines, has 200M people, so why should we practice (birth) control when we have a bigger territory than Japan and we are only 100M.
I have been a ConCon delegate in 1971 and I signed the Constitution even though I was against the transitory provision of former President Marcos for I believed that we should respect the rule of the majority. I abide by the decision of the lower House to approve the RH bill.”
Likewise, pro RH legislators hope to put an end to divisiveness and work together again on other equally important legislations.
Rep. Ma. Carmen Zamora (1st District, Compostela Valley): “I hope this ends the divisiveness on all issues so we will be able to start the year right by reaching out to the anti and the pro. On a personal note, I am optimistic that all will be fine in the coming days as we start the year. I hope the RH bill be implemented effectively so the efforts of all will not be wasted.
Likewise, I am proud to be a part of the 15th congress. If there is anything that I would like to be thankful about, It is the fact that I am part of this historic legislation, and I am proud at the same time thankful that we have an administration that is really supportive of the women’s plight.”
Rep. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac): “Finally, after 13 years, we have passed a landmark and very historic legislation. This bill has been very divisive and its time we move on. It is a very good piece of legislation, vital in fact, to move this country forward. Importante po ay hindi lang buhay kung hindi maganda, marangal at mabuting buhay ang maibigay natin sa ating mga kababayan. This law aims to uplift the lives of our people.
I was one of the firsts who signed the RH bill, because I believe that our countrymen really need it. The past three years, mahirap ang dinaanan ko, lahat ng batikos, all the explanation to all sectors of society inspired me more. For a lot of people are really asking for the RH Bill to become a law so they can avail (of it).
We should put this to rest, we should move forward to heal our land and to really work for other legislations to move this country forward.”
Rep. Kimi Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan): “I am completely relieved. Because we fought a long and hard fight, I can now breathe. Even if it was a 14 year- battle, as a neophyte, the three years for me was really very difficult because of the ups and downs of the RH bill. But I know that this is the best legacy the 15th congress will be giving to the Filipino people that is why I am ecstatic. I am very, very happy all our hard work has paid off and history will smile on us, when they remember the faithful day that the 15th Congress won the RH bill. The 15th Congress is the best!”
Rep. Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan): “Let us see the implementation of the RH bill first before we judge it. As a legislator it is my duty to be vigilant on the needs of the people and help them adapt in the changing world. I voted yes because I believe the bill will help my countrymen. I have seen a lot of youth in the streets, hungry, vulnerable at committing crime or are committing crime everyday with parents who are also unemployed and cannot do anything about their situation.”
Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay): “The reproductive health bill hurdled the bicameral conference committee retaining the empowerment of women and couples to freely and responsibly determine the number and spacing of their children.
The national government and the local government units are jointly responsible for the implementation of the Reproductive Health law with the LGUs receiving financial and technical assistance from the national government.
The Department of Education shall be formulating the curriculum of reproductive health and sexuality for the use of public schools and adaptable to private schools. The government is authorized to promote reproductive health, including voluntary contraception, prioritizing the poor and the marginalized.
Finally, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in his remarks before the Christmas break said, “… sana sa lahat ng ginawa natin, ang winner walang iba kung hindi ang taong Pilipino.”