RH Bill – tales of victory, apology and amendments
a few things happened yesterday at the House Of Representatives on the RH Bill (reproductive health bill) – the bill took a victory in congress when the anti rh bill congressmen were blocked by the house leadership and allowed the discussion to proceed on the rh bill. anti rh bill congressmen (and anti rh bill senators) have resorted to shameless delays and filibustering moves. but this time the house leadership finally did it’s job and got it going for the rh bill.
the end result was that the house has adapted the proposed amendments on the rh bill with no debate unlike what happened in the senate. this is the victory that the rh bill has claimed at the house.
read rappler.com article here: http://www.rappler.com/nation/16804-small-victory-for-rh-bill-in-house
but that was not just what happened.
the other day, twitter was on fire when rh bill supporter rep. kimi conjuangco tweeted about her encounter with majority floor leader (MFL) boyet gonzales when he apparently “threatened” conjuangco and told her to “shut up” on the rh bill. gonzales apparently also said that it was over for the rh bill in the current congress and should they just “repackage” it for the next congress.
but a day did make a difference in this drama between cojuangco and gonzales. cojuangco after yesterday’s victory at the house tweeted this:
all is well that ends well – that can be applicable here. but we just wonder why cojuangco apologized to gonzales when the previous day she said gonzales has “threatened” her and that from her tweets it was gonzales who had a few things to apologize to her for. this was quite a sudden change and in fact a complete reversal.
we suppose strange things happen in congress that us humans will never be able to understand.
we wondered what are the amendments that the house adapted. and this is where we are at on the rh bill.
In a press statement, Lagman listed the amendments as the following:
1. The State guarantees public access to and relevant information and education on medically safe, legal, ethical, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices and supplies which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
2. The State shall likewise prioritize the needs of poor women and men in marginalized households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive health care, services and supplies for free.
3. The State shall also provide funding support to promote modern-natural methods of family planning consistent with the needs of acceptors.
4. The State shall promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.
5. There shall be no demographic and population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate are incidental to the advancement of reproductive health and sustainable human development.
6. Family planning information and services shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective fertility cycles.
7. The teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be promoted and conducted with due deference to cultural, religious and ethical norms of various communities.
8. Flexibility in the teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be accorded to sectarian schools within the provisions and parameters of the Section on age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education.
9. The FDA shall update the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) with respect to modern family planning products and supplies in accordance with standard medical practice.
The foregoing amendments are contained in the proposed substitute bill which was announced by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Jr. in the plenary and distributed to all Members of the House.
First batch of amendments
1. Deletion of the provision on “Ideal Family Size” to assure critics that the bill does not impose a “two-child policy” like China’s “one-child policy”. The original version merely contemplates an ideal norm which is neither mandatory, compulsory nor punitive.
2. Deletion of the section on “Employer’s Responsibilities” to address concerns that a similar provision in Article 134 of the Labor Code is already adequate.
3. Deletion of the section on “Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines” to accommodate objections that such a prior classification cannot be made by law. In lieu of the protested provision, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the determination of the safety, efficacy and classification of modern family planning products and supplies pursuant to existing law.
4. Deletion of the prohibited act on malicious disinformation in order to fully guarantee the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.
5. Assurance of funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning like the Billings, Sympto-Thermal and Standard Days methods.
6. Hospitals owned and operated by a religious group are given the option not to provide “a full range of modern family planning methods” in order to further guarantee religious freedom.
7. Imposition of penalties to pharmaceutical companies, whether domestic or multi-national, which collude with government officials and employees in the purchase, procurement and distribution of modern family planning supplies, products and devices, and/or contribute to partisan political activities, in order to disabuse the minds of critics that there is a pharmaceutical lobby for the enactment of the RH bill.
8. Deletion of the provision making the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as the mandatory source for the acquisition and operation of the Mobile Health Care Service vehicles to respect the differing views of Congresspersons.
9. Emphasis that the bill is not a population control measure.
10. Parents are given the option not to allow their minor children to attend reproductive health and sexuality education classes to accord respect to religious convictions and beliefs. – Rappler.com
there were a few things we learned from this incident:
- there is a failure in the leadership of the House Of Representatives, the speaker of the house belmonte and majority floor leader boyet gonzales in marshaling the rh bill through congress. it is a failure as president noynoy aquino during the presidential election campaign and in the last SONA has said he supports the rh bill. belmonte and gonzales are aligned with aquino.
- the other failure of belmonte and gonzales is their inability to get the congressmen to attend sessions in congress. the delay on the rh bill vote has been hampered very much by a lack of quorum on days when rh bill advocates wanted to take the bill up in congress. getting member to attend HOR sessions we think is one of the most basic responsibilities and duties of the house leadership.
- the congressmen share the failings of the leadership on the responsibility of attending sessions in congress. as a taxpayer and citizen of the country, i am grossly disappointed that congressmen don’t seem to be doing their jobs. we know that as they hardly attend sessions, so it seems.
- the pro rh bill has the numbers in the house as shown from the vote that was taken adapting the amendments. that is, if there is a quorum.