By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA News
The chances of passing the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the House of Representatives are already slim due to time constraints, a House leader said Tuesday.
“Medyo lumiliit na ang butas na pagdadaanan ng RH bill. Considering that realistically, hanggang December na lang kami,… medyo humihirap na ang panahon para maipasa siya sa House,” House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said at a press briefing.
He said the RH bill — formally known as House Bill (HB) 4244 — will be shelved in the next two months, since the House will become busy with deliberations on the 2013 budget.
But Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, an author of the measure, said the House leadership should not give up on passing the RH bill.
“We should let the legislative process run its course. Why should he [Gonzales] precondition the minds of Congress and the public that the bill will not be passed?” Ilagan said in a separate text message.
HB 4244, which has been undergoing plenary debates at the House since March last year, endorses the use of both natural and artificial modes of family planning. It has been identified as one of President Benigno Aquino III’s priority measures.
The bill is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural family planning methods.
Last month, the Senate ended debates on the controversial measure, making it a step closer to being passed on second reading.
At the news briefing, Gonzales further said that he will ask House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to call a caucus of all House members to decide on the fate of the bill once and for all.
“Hindi naman puwedeng nagsimula iyan one year ago tapos up to this date, pinagdedebatehan pa rin… We owe it to the people na dumating kami sa puntong mapagbobotohan ito,” he said.
Gonzales said he hopes his colleagues will agree to vote on whether or not to end the period of debates next month, before the House tackles the 2013 budget at the plenary.
He said this test vote, which he has been calling for since early this year, will allow the House to determine if the RH bill can still gather support from lawmakers.
“Kung walang quorum, that’s an indication na walang support, kaysa naman naglolokohan pa tayo at binibigyan ng false hopes ang mga tao,” he said. — RSJ/KG, GMA News