A group of women advocates working in grassroots communities nationwide is confident that there is enough time to pass the highly debated but widely supported Reproductive Health (RH) bill before the budget session, in time for Christmas.
The bill moved fast during the 1st Regular Session of the 15th Congress and now on its way to second reading in Senate and the House of Representatives, said Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of Democratic Socialist women of the Philippines (DSWP.)
Angsioco opined that there is no reason why the bill will not pass before the budget session. “The support for the RH bill is overwhelming,” she said. “Not only do all surveys show the huge public support, the Executive branch, led by the President is for it, the House leadership is for the Bill, and the big number of Senators who signed Senator Pia Cayetano’s Committee Report is proof that more than the majority in the Senate are supportive of RH,” she added.
The Senate and House of Representatives versions of the RH bill are very similar. Thus, even if the Bicameral Committee is convened to harmonize the two bills, it will not take long for the Committee to achieve this, Angsioco explained.
Meanwhile, to further ensure the passage of the RH bill, DSWP members are calling on the President to clearly say in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the bill is among his priorities.
The more than forty thousand members of the DSWP are confident that a SONA pronouncement will propel the even swifter movement of the RH bill in Congress.
“If President Aquino wants, the RH law can be his Christmas gift to the Filipino people, particularly to poor women. After all, we do not see the President turning back on his earlier statements pushing for the RH bill,” said Angsioco.
“With the passage of the RH Bill, the eleven mothers dying daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications will be reduced drastically What could be a better Christmas gift than the gift of life to poor women?” she ended.