Slowly but surely, the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is moving forward in the Senate.
After nearly one year of plenary debates, the chamber on its Tuesday session terminated interpellations on Senate Bill No.2865, the proposed ‘Reproductive Health Act.’ The measure co-sponsored by Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago moves on to the next stage, the period of amendments.
“I’m happy and relieved that after almost a year of defending the RH Bill, we have finally terminated the period of interpellation,” said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committees on Health and Demography and on Youth, Women and Family Relations, “I’m now looking forward to starting the period of amendments.”
In an unexpected turn yesterday, Senate President Juan Enrile, a known critic of the bill, withdrew his intent to resume his interpellation after all other interpellators were done with their turn. This prompted Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to manifest that there were no more senators left to ask questions on the bill before moving to terminate the period of interpellation.
Cayetano delivered her sponsorship speech on the RH Bill nearly one year ago on June 7, 2011. Since then, a total of nine senators had taken the floor to interpellate the lady sponsors.
“There have been a lot of points raised by my colleagues that we will be able to use to improve the bill, and I would like to thank them for sharing their inputs and concerns with me,” she pointed out. “I certainly hope that in that whole year that we’ve spent debating on the bill, my co-sponsor (Defensor-Santiago) and I have also been able to enlighten some of them on their questions and concerns.”
She continued: “I’d like to reassure everyone that we’ll continue to work hard on this measure with the end in view of passing an RH Bill at the soonest possible time while also taking into consideration the valid points raised by some of our colleagues.”
Cayetano concluded by thanking the ‘Pro-RH’ groups and individuals who had religiously attended the Senate sessions to follow the debates and provide inputs to support the sponsors.
“We’d like to thank the supporters, non-government organizations and individuals who patiently came here, sometimes almost every day, to assist us in the defense of the bill. Our work is far from done, but we should consider this a triumph on the part of everyone who values the lives of mothers.” #
* Note: Based on Senate plenary records, the nine interpellators were: Sens. Enrile, Sotto, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Serge Osmena, Lito lapid, Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III. On separate occasions, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Joker Arroyo, had also joined in the course of the discussions.