MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives made history last night with its approval of the controversial reproductive health bill that preceded two months of highly emotional debates and acted upon after 14 years of attempts by various proponents to pass the measure but foiled each time by the strong lobby of the Catholic Church.
Under the watchful eyes of at least a dozen top church leaders seated at the gallery, congressmen voted 113 for and 104 against, with 3 abstentions, to approve the measure on second reading.
Nominal voting was taken after congressmen opposed to House Bill 4244 moved for this procedure, insisting that the viva voce vote was determined to be unclear with the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, complaining that the crowd in the gallery joined in the shouting of vote.
However, witnesses accused Tañada of bias toward approval of the bill as they noted that the gallery crowd was silent and merely keenly observed the proceedings.
At the gallery were Catholic Church Archbishops Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City; Bishop Teodoro Bacani; Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderic Pabillo; Bishop Jesse Mercado; Archbishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao; Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo City; and Msgr. Clemente Ignacio, rector of Quiapo Church. Also seen at the gallery were Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, among others.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, a staunch supporter of HB 4244, said the bill will be sent to another plenary vote next week, this time for third reading approval.
To read the full report, please click here: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/385515/house-oks-rh-bill#.
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