Senate agrees to vote on RH bill next week

THE Philippine Senate has agreed to close the period of amendments and pass on second reading next week on the controversial Reproductive Health bill as a “compromise” agreement in impasse incurred during the session.

For more than two hours of suspension Monday afternoon, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada proposed, which was approved by the senators present, to close the period of amendments on Monday and vote for the second reading of the measure.

As agreed earlier, Senator Ralph Recto will present and finish his amendments on Wednesday; and for Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to introduce and terminate his amendments on Monday, thus voting on the second reading on the same day.

However, Estrada said that if the Lower House acted to the measure until Wednesday next week, there will be a session on Thursday next week in order to accommodate the three day before voting on third and final reading.

“On Thursday (next week) the chamber will vote on the measure on third and final reading on the assumption that the House of the Representatives will also act on the measure. If the House did not act on the measure, there will be point to have a session on Thursday,” Estrada.

Senator Pia Cayetano acceded to the schedules.

Earlier, Cayetano move to transfer the discussion on the RH bill from page of the agenda to page one in order to facilitate the period of amendments from Recto and Sotto.

But Sotto disagreed since there was other pending bills that also needs the same attention from the plenary including the People’s Ownership of Government Information (POGI).

To her rescue, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago argued that Cayetano only move to merely transfer the discussion on the RH bill which was schedule as the last measure to be discussed by the chamber.

“There is no motion as yet to close the period of amendments. What she wants to happen—and I concur with her ambition—is that we should discuss first the RH Bill so that we’ll have all the time this afternoon to listen to all the amendments. That way we can observe certain principles of law,” Santiago said.

Santiago said the motion to transfer the discussion on RH bill have the concurrence of the Legislative Parliamentary Counselling Service.

“We have always done this, no one has ever objected, there is no contrary provision in our own Rules, and the Supreme Court has said that these are matters for us to settle. It is not a question of individual rights or violation of human rights, which is what the Supreme Court said. So I respectfully submit that the motion should be passed,” Santiago said.

Instead of acting on Santiago’s contention, the Chamber has agreed to put the motion on the table so they can open the same anytime as move by Sotto and acceded by Cayetano.

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