MANILA, Dec. 15, 2012—Since President Benigno Aquino III has certified the reproductive health (RH) bill as urgent, all people of faith and firm believers of true freedom have been alerted of the crucial need to make their presence and their opposition to the bill felt at the House of Representatives on Monday.
The President’s certifying the RH bill as urgent has spelled the difference in the legislative procedure leading to passage or non-passage of the measure.
“On December 14, the President certified the RH bill as urgent. Therefore, the legislative process in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be fast-tracked and completed by Monday or Tuesday,” said Atty. Ma. Concepcion Noche, president of Alliance for the Family Inc.
Noche explained that due to the certification, the three-day rule as regards tackling the bill on third reading would not apply anymore.
“The three-day rule is from second to third reading – count three days from the date legislators are furnished clean copies of the bill as approved on second reading. That’s when the third reading is held,” she said.
“That is skipped because of the certification of urgency – right after second reading, third reading could be held.”
Technically, House Bill 4244 could be signed into law by next week. Life and family advocates, faith-based organizations, civic groups, as well as the youth and the clergy are again mobilizing for Monday to be in the frontlines to express their opposition to the measure and make their presence felt in Congress.
All indications point to this day as a make-or-break day as voting on third reading of House Bill 4244 will be done.
The measure was passed on second reading at past 2 a.m. Thursday, with Malacanang revealing its determination to see a victory by having four Cabinet secretaries at the Lower House’s premises Wednesday evening.
The Palace officials – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Secretary Ricky Carandang – talked with Liberal Party (LP) solons and advised them to either vote for the bill or to be absent during the voting, according to some anti-RH lawmakers.
The final vote tally on second reading was 113-104 in favor of passage, with three abstentions. Sixty-two solons were absent during the voting.
Noche, however, sees the results of the December 12 voting as “just a temporary setback, and all is not lost for now. We have a good chance to reverse the outcome for the third and final reading when nominal voting shall take place again.”
The lawyer added that action on the RH bill early next week will take place simultaneously in the House of Representatives and the Senate, so life advocates are being advised to be present in both chambers to monitor the proceedings.
Sessions at the House of Representatives start at 4 p.m., while those at the Senate begin at 3 p.m.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) said, ““We are more than resolute to oppose the spirit behind the bill until the very last breath that we have.” (CBCP for Life)