MANILA, August 15, 2012—Pro-life citizens had an ally taking the podium Tuesday and saying the House of Representatives owes the Filipino people an explanation regarding the sudden termination of interpellations on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, which was scheduled for August 7.
“This is about the integrity and reputation of this House and its members vis-à-vis the termination of the debate on the RH bill last Monday, August 6. I believe that we owe our nation an explanation on what happened, and that each member of this house has the right to make that attempt – a right that is also a duty,” Palawan Rep. Dennis Socrates said in his privilege speech.
After dwelling on events leading up to the sudden vote – from hearing about Malacanang’s invitation to solons to an August 6 meeting (“I received no invitation so I did not attend,” he stated in Filipino) to his astonishment over the premature voting on the same day – Socrates said he felt that he and his anti-RH colleagues were duped.
“Ang pakiramdam ko po noon ay ‘naisahan’ kaming mga anti-RH. Ni hindi kami nagkaroon ng pagkakataong makapagpaliwanagan, at nang makapaghanda lamang sana kahit kaunti,” he said, adding his surprise at the outcome of the vote to terminate debates, which was done by simply shouting one’s preference.
Some of the “aye” votes seemed to him to come from the galleries rather than on House members present, he continued, revealing later that he had voted against the motion to end debates.
So that the people may know
“Sinasabi ko po ito upang malaman ng sambayanang Pilipino: May panlilinlang na naganap. Naisahan lamang tayo. At kung tumatahak po tayo sa Daang Matuwid, dapat ay hindi puwede ang ‘nakaisa.’ Ang ‘nakaisa’ [ay] kakambal ng ‘palusot.’ (I am saying this so that the Filipino people may know: A deception happened. We were simply duped. And if we are walking on the Right Path – “Daang Matuwid” – then there should be no room for deceit. Deceit and excuses go hand in hand),” Socrates explained.
The Palawan congressman explained that he’d prefer that interpellations on the contentious bill continued because these serve to enlighten not only the lawmakers but the public as well and have led to a better understanding of the measure and the consequences of enacting it into law.
Socrates posited that his anti-RH colleagues may have consented to an August 7 vote – the original schedule – only because of the agreement that should the motion to end debates lose, the bill would not be taken up again. The notion of shelving House Bill 4244 was indeed something they relished, and this was the situation before August 6, he revealed.
And then the Malacanang meeting took place.
RH bill an attack on Catholicism
The lawmaker reiterated that the measure – which will pour billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money into the procurement and distribution of a full range of contraceptives and a six-year sex education program in all schools – is an attack against Catholicism.
And Catholics’ rejection of the measure is not an imposition of religious beliefs on others but a protection of rights. He appealed that Catholics should not be forced to agree with and follow the “faith” of those pushing for the bill.
“I am referring to beliefs such as liberalism, socialism, Marxism, atheism and other –isms that aim to trample on and banish the Catholic Church from public discourse because the Church contradicts their foreign ideology, which leads to the annihilation of the Filipino race,” the Palawan congressman said in Filipino.
Socrates said he was not allowed to deliver his privilege speech in its entirety, thereby preventing him from informing the body about a signature campaign against the RH bill addressed to the House of Representatives and which bears a “We respectfully but strongly urge you to reject the RH/RP Bill” message.
As of August 6, the petition had contained some 100,000 signatures of people from different parts of the country. The petition will be submitted to the House of Representatives, the congressman said. (CBCP for Life)