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RH Bill Approved, Now Up for Bicameral Conference

With Congress voting 133-79 with seven abstentions, and the Senate casting their vote at 13-8 in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill, the controversial bill recently certified by Pres. Aquino as urgent, has finally been approved Monday night.

The Senate, presided by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, approved Senate Bill No. 2865 with 13-8 votes. Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano, the bill’s sponsors, were joined by Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Francis Pangilinan and Ralph Recto on the yes bloc.

On the other side of the fence, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla, Jr., Aquilino Pimentel III, Vicente Sotto III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar opposed the bill’s passage. Senators Manuel Lapid and Sergio Osmeña III were absent during yesterday’s session.

Senator Enrile, who has been known to vehemently oppose the RH Bill along with Senator Sotto, said he hopes that the bill “will bring the benefits it seeks to accomplish.” Meanwhile, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman expressed his optimism that the Philippine Congress will successfully reconcile the two versions of the RH Bill on the Bicameral Conference.

The House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 4244 with 133-79-7 votes on the third and final reading, with Congressmen Manny Pacquaio and Raul Daza, known RH bill supporters, missing the vote. Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella also failed to cast his vote as he was disallowed under the rules since he presided over the proceedings.

Battle might have been over for anti-RH Bill legislators, but the Roman Catholic Church is not retreating. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a pastoral letter, said that the RH Bill is a “moral time bomb” in time for Christmas.

Apparently, the Church is likely to echo the maxim, “what is legal is not always moral and what is moral is not always legal,” when Archbishop Villegas said that the majority doesn’t necessarily reflect what is right.

“It is only a matter of time and then we will see more violations of “Thou shall not kill” and Thou shall not commit adultery” among our families, our youth and children,” he added.

However, the CBCP pastoral statement titled, “Let us move on!” also assured of a more intensified moral and spiritual education of the youth and children in the archdiocese of Lingayen to strengthen their moral fiber.

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