MANILA, Nov. 28, 2012—Hundreds of supporters of anti-RH lawmakers on Monday filled the galleries of the House of Representatives’ plenary hall, responding to the previous day’s reports of unexpected maneuvering by proponents of the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill which ended in a speculated aversion to nominal voting as regards the measure.
Apparently irked by the prospect of the P3.6 billion bill being pushed into app
roval by its authors – obviously ignoring persistent opposition by family and life advocates, childhood development experts, medical specialists and faith-based groups – red-garbed concerned citizens from the diocese of Antipolo, the Minor Basilica of Black Nazarene in Quiapo, and UP for Life trooped to the Batasan Pambansa to make their presence felt and boost the anti-RH movement further for the legislators to see.
The passage of the RH bill will be bad for the country, said Ma. Corazon Soriano and Jill Jimenez, both of whom made the trip from Antipolo without a moment’s hesitation after hearing of developments during Monday’s session.
“Bad talaga. It will be bad for our country,” Soriano, an educator, reiterated. Even the grade school-aged members of her family understood enough to regard a measure that includes comprehensive sex education as something undesirable, she related.
“One of them wrote a letter and asked me to edit it. It just said, ‘Please don’t let [the RH bill] pass because it will just destroy us, the children,” Soriano said, explaining that the letter was meant for the decision-makers in government.
The Lower House on Monday accepted amendments to House Bill 4244 by substitution as the new one under consideration, through viva voce voting. Viva voce (live voice) voting refers to voting by speech – saying “aye” or “nay” (yes or no) instead of by written or printed ballot.
Seconds later, after Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia made a motion for nominal voting, ALAGAD Party-List Representative Rodante Marcoleta moved for adjournment.
Deputy Speaker Crispin Remulla hence declared session adjourned till the following day.
Nominal voting refers to a scheme in which lawmakers cast their votes one by one and will be allowed to explain their votes on the bill.
Reactions were instantaneous when the incident reached social media, expressing incredulity over the idea of lawmakers voting anonymously regarding a controversy-ridden measure like the RH bill.
The amendments made on the RH bill were played up in the media, with proponents saying that these were made to pacify demands of those opposed to HB 4244. Analysts from pro-life advocacy groups, however, as well as Church officials have remained firm in their anti-RH position after studying the substitute RH bill, citing the presence of the same unacceptable principles.
“Even though it limits the giving of free RH care, services, and supplies to the poor and marginalized, this does not make the bill acceptable because it is wrong to promote contraception and give free contraceptives, whether to the rich or the poor,” said Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, who also heads the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), in a press conference.
“We would like to reiterate that our aim in objecting against the HB4244 is to protect not only the good of Catholics but the good of all, Catholics and non-Catholics,” he explained.
Even the pro-life forces present at the Lower House on Monday brushed off the possibility of accepting the substitute bill.
“Hindi pa rin! You know, the essence [of the original version] is still there,” Soriano said.
“Huwag na nila kaming lokohin. Huwag nang mag-lokohan, especially since Lagman said that he wants the essence of the bill to still be there. What kind of amendments would those be?”
Monday’s session was adjourned at shortly past 5:00 p.m. without the RH bill being tackled. The pro-life supporters, however, composed mostly of lay individuals with a few religious sisters, vowed to come back in droves and continue demonstrating the strong anti-RH sentiment with their presence. (CBCP for Life)