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MANILA, Philippines -- Acknowledging the issue remains controversial, leaders of the House of Representatives said Friday they cannot predict the fate of the Reproductive Health bill but are hoping they can terminate debates on the contentious measure after another month.
Earlier, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II had hoped they could wrap up the RH debates before Congress went into recess this week.
However, he and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. now say debates on the bill will continue when session resumes May 7 and are hoping to end these when Congress adjourns sine die.
“Actually, what I’ve been trying to do is to talk to both sides that we vote on it one way or the other,” Belmonte said. “But it’s not as simple as that. Even if we succeed in the period of interpellation, we hit the period of amendments, and there are all kinds of amendments, and what if someone introduces a killer amendment. But after May, hopefully we can close the period of interpellation.”
“We have reached the point na basta mapagbotohan na lang (that we just want to vote on it), particularly at this point when nobody can say he has the majority. But it still behooves us to try to it to a vote one way or the other,” he added.
However, Gonzales says even more intense debates can be expected when the bill enters the period of amendments.
And, he added, the bill’s counterpart in the Senate will also have to move forward
“We can’t predict its fate in the Senate. We don’t know how the senators think,” he said.
House Bill 4244 or the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, Population and Development Act reached the plenary for debates in March 2011.
Various versions of the RH bill have been filed since the 11th Congress but staunch opposition from the Catholic church has prevented it from becoming a law.