Aquino tells solons to vote on RH bill

MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III says he will not impose his will on lawmakers over the controversial Reproductive Health bill when he meets with them over lunch in Malacañang on Monday.

He says he will make another push for Congress to vote on the measure once and for all, but he does not want the divisiveness that has rocked Congress to continue because of the debates over the RH bill, which is also known as the Responsible Parenthood bill.

That bill aims to guarantee universal access to the methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal health care, but the Catholic Church and some lawmakers are violently against it, saying it is immoral and anti-life.

“The Liberal Party will not impose our position,” Mr. Aquino said on Friday.

“We will respect their individual conscience, but they have to decide. We will suggest to them to decide on the bill.” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said “the closest thing the President will ask for is to put the measure to a vote.

“I think we have reached a point, long overdue, to vote on this…Let’s just vote on this bill to end the debates,” Belmonte said.

Monday’s meeting will be the second time that Mr. Aquino would be discussing the bill with House members. Mr. Aquino pleaded with the lawmakers to end the floor debates on the measure during their first meeting in August.

Still, a breakthrough was achieved this week after Congress succeeded in adopting a substitute version of the controversial bill. The new version says the state will only promote “access to 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 the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration.”

The state will also promote openness to life “provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.”

Meanwhile, Migrante, the newly-accredited party-list group for migrant workers, on Friday slammed Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile for telling reporters that “our biggest exports are [Filipino workers]…the reason why I am against the RH bill.”

“While Senator Enrile is right in his observation that [Filipino workers] are the country’s biggest exports…his justification for his anti-RH stand is misplaced and put in an improper context,” said John Leonard Monterona, the group’s vice chairman and regional coordinator in the Middle East.

Enrile has said that Filipino workers are engaged in a contractual employment but eventually come home for reintegration into the jobless population, but Monterona said Enrile had failed to recognize the root cause of the Filipino workers’ forced migration.