House approves RH bill on second reading in historic 113-104 vote

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Pro-RH rally. Photo courtesy of Pinoygigs.com
Pro-RH rally. Photo courtesy of Pinoygigs.com

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA (13-Dec-2012/PNA) – Voting 113 to 104 with three abstentions, the House of Representatives early Thursday morning approved the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill on second reading.

The landmark legislation was approved after nearly six hours of voting.

The continuation of the individual period of amendments HB 4244 started Wednesday at 6 p.m. and was terminated at 7:42 p.m.

Before the measure was put to a vote, a roll call was conducted which showed that 217 lawmakers showed up for the historic vote which later on reached 226 upon counting the late comers.

Following House rules, the measure was first put on’ viva voce’ voting.

The result was in confusion as anti-RH supporters in the gallery joined in the voice voting which led to nominal voting.

The nominal voting started at 8:15 p.m.and took six hours to complete as lawmakers took turns in explaining their votes. The voting ended at 2 a.m. Thursday.

The voting pattern followed four distinctive lines of thought – those who voted according to the popular will of their constituents, those who voted on personal beliefs, those who thought the bill is unconstitutional and those who voted on religious beliefs.

Most of the anti-RH legislators either voted on religious grounds or declared the measure as unconstitutional. Others meanwhile voted against the measure because they deemed it an unnecessary bill or a combination of the three reasons previously stated.

But even despite the overwhelming number of Catholic leaders present during session, led by Archbishop Ramon Agruelles, Bishops Teodoro Bacani Jr., Broderick Pabillo among others, the measure was approved by a slim margin.

Before the decision was announced, Tañada congratulated his colleagues in the 15th Congress for showing “courage” to put the RH bill into a vote.

HB 4244 now moves to the third and final reading – which will be tackled on Monday, December 17 – a significant step for a measure that had not come this far for the past 13 years in Congress. (PNA)

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