Long Speeches Delay RH Amendments

Thursday, August 16, 2012

LEGISLATORS opposed to the reproductive health (RH) bill managed to delay the next step in the enactment of the proposed law after they “deliberately” delivered long privilege speeches for two days in a row.

The House leadership on Tuesday requested the attendance of all congressmen as they go into the period of amendments on House Bill 4244 or the RH bill.

A privilege speech questioning the integrity of the House of Representatives after it terminated the period of interpellation on the RH bill last week, however, ended up in the adjournment of the plenary session.

The presiding speaker then could not decide whether it will allow the privilege speech or not.

On Wednesday, the presiding speaker allowed Cebu Representative Benhur Salimbangon to deliver a 10-minute privilege speech on higher electricity rates in Bantayan Island. Salimbangon did not entertain questions from his colleagues.

After Salimbangon, a known anti-RH legislator Paranaque Representative Roilo Golez stood up to deliver a privilege speech on the devastation brought by the southwest monsoon.

Iloilo Representative Janette Garin, one of the proponents of the RH measure, tried to block Golez’s privilege speech, pointing out that the role of Congress is to legislate.

“We are not the disaster reduction committee,” she told Golez.

“This is not about legislation. This is about too much politicking. We owe it to our people to legislate laws. It is our duty to put forward a vote on this measure,” Garin said.

Presiding speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla allowed Golez to deliver his privilege speech, saying it does not violate House rules.

After his speech, Golez moved to suspend deliberations on the RH bill. Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez seconded his motion.

Session was adjourned until August 28 because of the holidays set by the government.

Garin said the House leadership should “discipline” its members as the delivery of privilege speeches is a deliberate move on the part of the anti-RH group.

“Anti-responsible parenthood congressmen filibusters and delivers long speeches in the guise of district concerns. It’s very obvious these past days that they are disrupting the session to delay amendments and subsequent voting. Obviously, they are afraid to put this into a vote as they know the real voice of the people,” she said in a text message.

Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo, for his part, said the anti-RH bloc cannot keep the House “hostage by their respective agenda”.

“It will not bring us closer to bringing up the reputation of the House as far as the public is concerned. When people don’t cooperate, everyone loses,” he said.

The main author of HB 4244, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, said House leaders should implement a time table on the process of approving the RH bill.

Deputy Speaker Remulla, for his part, advised his pro-RH colleagues to maintain a quorum.

Quorum numbers noticeably dwindle while privilege speeches are being delivered. Amendments to the RH bill cannot be deliberated upon if the House fails to muster a quorum. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

Strong: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2012/08/16/long-speeches-delay-rh-amendments-237768

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