Thursday, September 10, 2009

House moves to fast-track debates on RH bill

House moves to fast-track debates on RH bill

MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives will hold plenary debates on the reproductive health bill in a bid to fast track discussions of the controversial measure lounging in the chamber for months now.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said he has instructed Majority Leader Arthur Defensor to “simplify the plenary debates” on House Bill 5043 or the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2009 “to avoid personal divisive emotional matters.”

Defensor said he would meet the opposing parties on Monday to agree on a timetable and procedures of the debates.

The bill is now in the period of interpellation on the floor...

According to Defensor, instead of having a long list of lawmakers interpellating the sponsor, only the panel members of each side would be allowed to speak on different topics of the bill.

And according to this same news item, there are about 50 (?) legislators who are anti-RH bill. Supposedly, if each one of them would be given the chance to interpellate one by one, then time will run out as Congress adjourns. Its persistent supporters will just have to reintroduce the bill in the next Congress, if they are so inclined. Meanwhile, would the anti-RH congressmen agree to a "simplified" plenary debate to "fast-track" discussions? No problem I guess, as long that all salient arguments are entertained and that each congressman is not denied the right to express positions for or against. Good luck.

At any rate it is quite amazing that so much legislative resources are devoted to the RH-bill, considering the doggedness and passion that its sponsor-legislators devote to it. If only all our legislators work just as hard in pushing "priority" bills that really matter. Recently, 16 such bills were signed into law by PGMA, and the
astonishing thing about it is that there are no (meaning nada, zilch) funds to back up these laws. With respect to this RH bill, an astute commenter notes that the cost of RH facilities alone to support this bill amounts to an astounding 24 billion pesos.


No comments: