MANILA -- The House of Representatives failed to begin discussions on amendments to the reproductive health (RH) bill after it failed to decide whether it will allow the delivery of a privilege speech questioning the integrity of the chamber.

The House leadership earlier requested the attendance of all its members as the RH bill goes into the period of amendments.

Last week, majority of the House members voted to terminate the period of interpellation on the controversial measure.

However, before deliberations on the RH bill were resumed on the floor, two legislators against the measure manifested their intention to deliver a privilege speech.

One of them was Lanao del Sur Representative Hussein Pangandaman who delivered a privilege speech on religious freedom.

Another anti-RH lawmaker, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, meanwhile, took time to interpellate Pangandaman.

Palawan Representative Dennis Socrates then told the House leadership that he intends to deliver a speech on the integrity of the chamber following its earlier decision to terminate RH debates.

Deputy Majority Leader Romero Frederico Quimbo argued that Socrates cannot do such, citing House rules that prohibit taking up matters that have already been resolved.

Socrates appealed to presiding Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla. Remulla gave Socrates five minutes to argue his appeal but instead the latter proceeded with his speech.

"May panlilinlang na naganap, naisahan tayo. Kung tumatahak tayo sa daang matuwid, dapat hindi pwede ang nakaisa. Kakambal ito ng palusot," Socrates said.

Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco, one of the authors of the RH bill, cut Socrates's speech, saying she is "getting very impatient."

"We are here to begin the period of amendments to the RH bill...I am getting very impatient as I am sure that many of the Filipino people are. The delays going on today is really not very good for the House of Representatives," Cojuangco said.

The House then took a viva voce (ayes and nays) vote twice on Socrates's appeal to continue his speech.

Socrates moved for a nominal voting after the House leadership could not determine the result of the voice vote.

Instead of resolving the matter, the House of Representatives adjourned the session.

In an ambush interview, RH principal author Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said lawmakers against the measure were clearly trying to kill time so that there would not be quorum when discussions on the RH bill starts.

"The leadership must do its best to try to muster a quorum...It should be able to make a rule which would prioritize the considertaion of House Bill 4244 before entertaining members who are decided to delay proceedings," Lagman said.

Consideration of the RH bill will resume Wednesday. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)