House drafts substitute RH bill-A A +A
Thursday, October 18, 2012
MANILA -- To expedite discussions on the controversial reproductive health (RH) measure, the House of Representatives has distributed copies of a substitute bill containing proposed amendments, which could persuade critics to change its position.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the House of Representatives will be working on the substitute bill when Congress resumes session next month, November 5.
"We will distribute them to the members, for whatever it is worth, so that they would be guided when we resume sessions next month. We hope that for expediency and orderly procedure, this would be allowed as the substitute bill so that this could be used as the working draft, the point of reference when we move to the period of amendments," Gonzales said.
Lawmakers opposing the RH bill have repeatedly blocked discussions on the amendments as they resorted to delivering privilege speeches to delay the process.
Last August 6, the House of Representatives terminated more than a year of debates on the RH bill.
Gonzales said the proposed substitute bill was a "product of consultation" with concerned groups.
The House leadership earlier proposed the creation of an informal technical working group to allow proponents of the RH bill to discuss the measure with lawmakers and bishops opposing it.
"They could agree to pass the substitute bill," Gonzales said referring to the anti-RH lawmakers.
In the substitute bill, the government shall provide public access to reproductive health care services and supplies "which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum" as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The government shall likewise prioritize the needs of marginalized households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. The same system is used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the government's conditional cash transfer program.
The other proposed amendments include:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Family planning information and services shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective fertility cycles.
4. 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. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)