Reproductive health bill railroaded: Rufus

THE House Bill on Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 was railroaded by the House committee on health, Representative Rufus Rodriguez (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro) claimed.

“I was attending another meeting and when I came back, the bill was already approved,” reported Rodriguez in Saturday’s round table discussion on House Bill 812 at Philtown Hotel convened by Serve Life CDO, Incorporated.

Rodriguez said he fought to “kill” the bill in the committee on appropriations by citing the bill’s Section 23 which states in part, “…ten percent of the gender and development (GAD) budgets of all government departments, agencies, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities funded in the annual General Appropriations Act in accordance with RA 7192 (Women in Development and Nation-building Act) and Executive Order 273 (Philippine Plan for Gender Responsive Development 1995-2025) shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act.”

The budget is reportedly a whooping P2 billion.

The said Section 23 of the bill made it unconstitutional, said Rodriguez, because by using funds allotted for a different law is malversation of funds.

However, Rodriguez added that when the committee on appropriations divided the house, the 17 pro-choice lawmakers prevailed over 12 pro-life representatives.

Nevertheless, Rodriguez assured the pro-life advocates present that he would continue to fight for the killing of the bill.

For this week’s meeting of the committee on rules right before the bill would be heard in the plenary session, Rodriguez vowed to point out the constitutional infirmities of bill especially the Sections 22 to 23 and demand that the said bill be referred back to the committee on health for review.

He said he doubts the sincerity of Malacañang because the President claimed to be pro-life but her minions in Congress are doing the opposite.

“Bishops should tell solons in their district that they go to hell if they support HB 812,” Rodriguez said breaking the ice.

Rodriguez added: “Sa house pa lang, let’s kill the bill. Di na nato pa-abton pa sa Senado!”

Rodriguez was appalled as to why the government is allotting a big budget on preventing babies and why it should not use the money where it is more needed.

Corazon Calub, chair of the pro-life advocacy organization TEODORA, a co-convenor of the round table discussion, expressed her disappointment over why non-government organizations (NGOs) and family organizations have not been afforded a public hearing where they could present their views and concerns.

Last April 29 and May 21, pro-life advocates composed of family and women’s organizations and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) representatives went to Congress to testify and present their position on the controversial bill.

They were not given the floor to discuss their views on the bill.

“Despite that, the Constitution affirms and provides the right of families and family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and program that affect them,” Calub said, quoting the nation’s Charter.

“It seems to me that public hearings today, unlike in the past, are no longer in the dictionary of Congress,” added Calub.

She said the pro-life advocates in Mindanao are a solid political bloc.
Bong Corrales – Sunstar