Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A new twist in the RH bill saga

Church, Malacañang agree on family planning agenda

THE Aquino administration has gained the Catholic Church’s support for a “responsible parenthood” bill by agreeing not to set targets for population growth, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Monday.

President Benigno Aquino III will certify the new bill to Congress as urgent, but the state will not insist on the use of either natural or artificial birth control, Lacierda said.

At the second meeting between Palace officials and representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Monday, administration officials agreed with the Church view that population is not the root cause of poverty, Lacierda said.

...Lacierda did not say how the responsible parenthood bill would differ from the reproductive health bills that already are in Congress, and which have drawn stiff opposition from the Catholic Church.

But his remarks indicated that the Palace will not support the reproductive health bill.

“We have never endorsed the reproductive health bill,” Lacierda said.

“The President has consistently said he is for responsible parenthood.”

He added that it would be up to Congress to determine if they wanted to merge parts of the reproductive health bill with the Palace’s responsible parenthood bill.”

Palace drafts new RH bill, elates bishops

...“We give them choices for them to come up with a decision on when to have babies, spacing (their children) and all their concerns which in a large measure help them plan a family,” Lacierda said.

“It’s more again really of making sure the individual would live a life that they can afford without any burden on the family itself. That’s important and therefore again we’re saying, let’s provide access to all the information about it,” he said.

Lacierda said Health Secretary Enrique Ona was in charge of drafting the responsible parenthood bill and that it would be discussed in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting at the end of the January.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Malacañang had agreed with the Church’s position that the growing population had no relation to poverty.

Such an admission from the government was an indication that “things were becoming clearer” for both the Church and the Palace as to the many issues surrounding family planning, said CBCP secretary general Msgr. Juanito Figura in a press conference Monday...

Let's see. If there is one sure thing to be gleaned from these recent developments, it is that Malacanang will craft its own version of a "Responsible Parenthood" bill, and that this bill will be directly in relation to the pending RH bills being deliberated in Congress. Although Palace spokesman Lacierda "did not say how the responsible parenthood bill would differ from the reproductive health bills that already are in Congress", he did say that the Palace authored bill will "give them choices for them to come up with a decision on when to have babies, spacing (their children) and all their concerns which in a large measure help them plan a family". Accordingly, there will certainly be crucial overlaps in the scope in what the Palace certifies as urgent in its RP bill, in direct relation to what the RH-bill proponents advocate in their current versions of the bill.

As it is, the Lower House has already started committee hearings on the RH bill amidst a debate on rules of procedure and the issue as to the Constitutional protection of the unborn from "conception". Meanwhile in the Senate, a parallel RH bill still has to find its way into the order of business, amidst the strong opposition of Senate Majority leader Vicente Sotto III.

A few questions now come up. Will the House now suspend its committee deliberations on the RH bill and prudently wait for the Palace draft so as to reconcile it with the stated "responsible parenthood" priorities of the President? Will the House opt to totally ignore the Palace draft, only to face a tall risk of a Presidential veto? Do we assume that the current version/s of the RH bill gets to be arduously passed in the Lower House? Assuming further that it is later reconciled with a Senate version of the bill that is yet to take off from the order of the Senate's business? Can the RH bill proponents prove that conception means implantation in the Constitution?

The RH bill sponsors have oftentimes expressed with uncontained glee that PNoy has their support, but now Presidential spokesman comes out and flatly says: “We have never endorsed the reproductive health bill". Isn't it a wonder that Albay Representative and staunch RH-bill sponsor Edcel Lagman has said he is "overwhelmingly confident" of the passage of the measure?



sunnyday said...

If Pres. Aquino means what he says about advocating responsible parenthood, then he obviously has not thoroughly considered what the RH bill contains. Precisely it endorses (actually, mandates) IRRESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD since duty of educating children is given over to the State from the parents.

As for the bill with the new name, hmmm. There is always hope. But why would Lacierda say that the president has never endorsed the RH bill? Di ba panay ang praises niya for it dati? Sinabi pa niya that he will not be influenced by the Church regarding his position on it?

I emailed you a while ago about some committee meeting...

WillyJ said...

oo nga eh. It should be clear by now that Pnoy does not have a coherent stand on the RH bill. ugh.
At least he is giving an ear to the bishops. Lagman was heaping praises for PNoy's supposed support for the Rh bill prior to this development, but at this point, Lagman must be fuming mad. Pero tahimik kaya.

yes, the committe meeting will try to unify the 6 versions. The thing is, will they be predisposed to integrating PNoy's proposed RP bill, which will be coming out in a month? gets more interesting...