RH bill author: House lacks political will, not time-A A +A
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- The main proponent of the reproductive health (RH) bill said lack of time should not be used as an excuse for the non-passage of the highly divisive measure.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, main author of House Bill 4244, said Tuesday that the House of Representatives can easily pass the bill if it wants to.
"Lack of time should not be made the scapegoat for lack of political will in failing to enact the long pending reproductive health bill," he said. "'If there is a will, there is a way' is a truism in lawmaking."
On Tuesday, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the House might not have enough time to have the RH bill approved.
He said he will propose to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to call for a caucus to finally set a date when legislators will vote whether to terminate the RH debates or not.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the RH bill remains a priority of the administration.
However, he admitted that the matter is "contentious," thus it has been subjected to long debates.
"We certainly would like to see the end to the debates but again, it will leave it with the legislature as to when the debates will end and there will be an up or down vote on the RH," he said.
Lagman cited the swift approval of a measure cancelling the elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and the passage of the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations Governance Act (GOCC).
Unlike the Armm poll postponement and GOCC bills, which were immediately approved by the House, Lagman said the RH measure had been debated upon inside and outside Congress for almost one and a half decade.
Debates on the pending RH bill in the 15th Congress started in March 2011. It has, however, been filed in the previous Congresses.
"If the Senate has the time to vote on its counterpart RH bill, why should the House find time elusive and running out on an allied measure, which has been principally nurtured in the House," Lagman said.
He said President Benigno Aquino III himself has endorsed the RH bill to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council as a priority measure.
The senior lawmaker insisted that there is sufficient time from the opening of the third regular session next week until August to vote on the RH bill.
By September, plenary work is expected to be focused on the proposed national budget for 2013. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)