BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Despite the controversies surrounding the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill pending in Congress, the Reproductive Health Action Network (RHAN), an alliance of non-governmental organizations, is confident it will be passed.
The RHAN said they will secure one more signature to the 103 legislators who have expressed support for the bill.
House Bill No. 5043 or the Reproduction Health and Population Development Bill, primarily authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, garnered strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
In the monthly Usapang Population and Development (PopDev) sponsored by the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. (The Forum), in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday, Elizabeth Angsioco, RHAN secretary general, disclosed that due to their constant and heavy lobbying in Congress, one legislator promised to add his or her signature for the passage of the controversial bill.
Angsioco refused to name the 103 signatories of the bill, saying that they are protecting their identities due to constant “harassment” by the officials of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), who are also lobbying hard for the withdrawal of the bill.
Angsico named Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Liza Largoza-Maza and Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino Custodio as vocal supporters of the RH bill. The bill is on its second reading.
Meanwhile, at the Senate, four legislators are openly supporting the RH bill—Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Rodolfo Biazon, Panfilo Lacson and Jinggoy Estrada. Each of them filed separate bills regarding the reproductive health protection in the country.
On the other hand, Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Francis Pangilinan have expressed their opposition to the bill.
RH advocates said that there is no such provision in the bill that promotes abortion. They said that the bill is pushing for the “stoppage of unsafe and illegal abortion and giving adequate health and medical care for those who have undergone abortion.”
While the Catholic Church is against the bill, the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) said they are for the passage of the RH bill. (Bulatlat)