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Several members of the minority bloc are withdrawing support for the Reproductive Health Bill, a week before the crucial voting takes place at the House of Representatives.
At least eight House minority members are against the measure, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said, adding that he himself had a change of heart because it espouses population control.
“Some of our members are from the start opposed to the bill, now there are eight more,” he said in a phone interview.
Suarez, leader of the 28-member bloc, added that it is an “alarming policy” as can be gleaned from the experience of other countries that have negative growth rate because of its old population.
“I endorsed it because of concerns of unwanted pregnancy, but I realized that overpopulation and poverty can be addressed, while the negative growth rate is hard to address because you will have to convince your citizens to produce more babies,” Suarez said.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the main authors of the bill, said he was not aware of the withdrawal of support, but hinted of “possible pressure” that made the congressmen take an anti-RH stance.
Lagman, who preceded Suarez as the top leader of the minority bloc, said some members of the group have firmed up their position on the issue a long time ago.
“When I was minority leader, many also signed (as RH authors) not because I was minority leader, but because (they studied) the materials for them to decide. There was no pressure whatsoever, but if they are withdrawing, and I have not validated that, that is the time when there was a possible pressure for them to withdraw,” Lagman said in an interview.
On Monday, RH debates ensued on the floor with Lagman and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez debating in the first salvo.
Lagman had to sit on a chair while at the rostrum because of a torn ligament on his right leg.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he wants the debate to end on August 7 that would pave the way for a voting on second and third reading.