A group of women advocates pushing for the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is challenging the leadership of the House of Representatives (HOR) to put the bill to a vote before Congress goes on another break this December.
According to Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), a group doing daily mass mobilizations at the HOR South Entrance gate, news saying that voting on the RH bill might take place in June 2012 means that HOR leadership is reneging on its word that the bill will be voted on before the year ends.
Angsioco pointed out that HOR leadership has repeatedly made public statements saying that the HOR will vote on the RH bill before its Christmas break. “There is no point to further delay the vote because after the more than 10 years of debates, all arguments have been exhaustively discussed and no new ones are emerging,” Angsioco laments. “In fact, questions have been repetitive with some lawmakers even raising issues unfit for discussion in the halls of Congress,” she said.
She emphasized that for every day that Congress postpones voting, more and more mothers die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications and results in more orphaned families. “We do not understand how our lawmakers, tasked to address our people’s needs, can close their eyes on this very real problem. In their hands lies the solution to stop mothers’ deaths. It is as if mothers are unimportant to them,” Angsioco further said.
RH advocates are dismayed that HOR leadership seems to listen more to the few oppositors instead of giving weight to what the majority of the Filipino people wants – a comprehensive and pro-poor RH law.
Angsioco challenged the HOR leaders to implement its rules so the bill can be voted on immediately. “With political will, the so-called 20 interpellators can finish if repetitive questions will not be allowed and if they keep to their one-hour per interpellator rule,” she added.
To anti-RH lawmakers, Angsioco has this to say, “If they really have the numbers as they claim, then they should join us in calling for the vote now. There really is no reason for them not to.”
According to Angsioco, advocates are beginning to lose patience, “We are ready to do whatever it takes to pressure the HOR to take the vote this December. Yesterday, more than 500 of us braved the strong rains and continued our mass action to show Congress that we mean business. We will not stop and mass actions will be bigger until they listen to us. What we want is for Congress to fulfill its responsibility - vote on the RH bill now,” she ended. Ms. Rhoda V. Avila