Editorial: Ending the RH bill debate-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
JUSTICE delayed, referring to the judicial process, is justice denied. If so, what would the delay in putting an important bill to a vote, referring to the legislative process, amount to?
Allies of President Noynoy Aquino in the House of Representatives have agreed in a caucus yesterday to end the debate on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
This answers the question in the plenary on whether to terminate the discussion or not and could mean the fate of the measure will be decided upon by this Congress, not by the next one.
This development should put a closure, at least at the congressional level, to the long-drawn verbal exchange and clash of ideas mainly between the Catholic Church and the bill’s proponents. The foot-dragging has lasted more than a decade and has created a divisiveness that is not doing any good for Philippine society and the Church.
Attempts have been made to reconcile the conflicting viewpoints on both the reproductive health concept and provisions of the measure, which is a consolidation of various lawmakers’ initiatives, but it has become apparent that the Church and the bill’s proponents are operating on two different planes that could never meet.
While the bill’s proponents want the talks to focus on the provisions of the measure (which they have revised to address some of the Church’s earlier objections), the Church is targeting the reproductive health and population control concept itself. That ensures that whatever form the RH bill will take will always be objected to by the Church.
The foot-dragging in deciding the measure by previous congresses therefore amounts to nothing as far as legislative substance is concerned. But it did serve the purpose of lawmakers, which was to evade political backlash from their vote for or against the bill.
Politicians may say in public that there is no Catholic vote in the country but in private they are obviously uncertain of the veracity of that claim. What if the Catholic faithful in the various dioceses in the districts do decide to follow the dictates of the Church hierarchy on this issue? That’s a real concern in a “politics is addition” milieu.
Still, the delay by Congress in resolving the RH bill controversy is eventually unfair to the rest of the lawmakers’ constituents. It is time for them to muster the courage and put an end to the foot-dragging.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 07, 2012.