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Congress to defy Church on RH bill—Speaker Belmonte

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Congress to defy Church on RH bill—Speaker Belmonte

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 13:31:00 09/30/2010

Filed Under: Health, Women, Human Rights, Laws, Congress, Government, Churches (organisations)

MANILA, Philippines—Taking his cue from President Benigno Aquino III, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he is prepared to face the wrath of the Catholic church in making sure that the bills on reproductive health pending in the House of Representatives are discussed extensively and voted on by lawmakers.

“Everyone has to assess it for himself, but we ourselves have assessed it in the past and we are willing to take the risk,” Belmonte told reporters in his weekly news conference Thursday when asked how lawmakers intend to deal with the staunch opposition of the Catholic church, which even campaigns against congressmen in favor of RH bill.

While offering no guarantee of its passage, Belmonte said he would like to see the bill reach third reading and voted on by members of the chamber, unlike in the past congresses when it only reached the level of plenary debates.

With the snowballing support for the bill, Belmonte said he might even ask the President to certify it as an urgent measure.

“I think it’s okay for us to request him to certify that. At any rate he’s already bitten the bullet on it,” he said.

At least six bills seeking a law on comprehensive reproductive health are pending in the House.

Belmonte said the issue has once again been thrust into the public’s awareness because of the President’s pronouncement that he is open to supporting couples who want to use artificial means of family planning, and because a newly-born baby from an unwanted pregnancy was found in a garbage bin of a Gulf Air flight.

He acknowledged that Aquino’s statement will somehow influence lawmakers’ position on the issue.

“To be very frank, the stand of the President, I think, will have some influence on our bill here which is now pending along with other bills of the same nature,” he said.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 October 2010 19:43 )