MANILA - Seven members of the minority in the House of Representatives have withdrawn their co-authorship of House bill No. 4244, more popularly known as the RH bill.
In a letter received by the Office of the House Speaker, among those who have withdrawn their co-authorship are:
Minority leader Danilo Suarez,
Rep. Orlando Fua of Siquijor,
Reena Concepcion Obillo of Una Ang Pamilya,
Rep. Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman of the 1st
District of Lanao del Sur,
Rep. Nasser Pangandaman of AA-Kasosyo,
Elmer Panotes, 2nd Dist. Camarines Norte, and
Pastor M. Alcover of Anad Party-list.
With this development, there are now 20 members of the minority, including former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who are against the RH bill, while 8 remain co-authors of the bill.
According to Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, the reason for his change of heart is his observation that in developed countries, there are more old people than young people, and that they are incurring a negative growth rate.
He also now believes that the main resource of the country is its human resource. He said almost 10 million overseas Filipinos, many of whom are sending dollar remittances, are keeping the country economically afloat.
Suarez believes that instead of the RH bill, he would rather have the Department of Health (DOH) offer free vasectomy or ligation for those who want to have a small family.
The minority leader also said that they are happy with the return of Rep. Gloria Arroyo in the House of Representatives, and that the former President expressed her opposition to the RH bill.
Suarez said Mrs. Arroyo will vote for the continuation of the debates of reproductive health on Tuesday.
Suarez hopes that other members of the minority will also withdraw their support for the bill.
Another member of the opposition Cong. Rodolfo Albano of Isabela, however, said he is still undecided whether to support or oppose the RH bill.
Meanwhile, Cong. Edcel Lagman, the main proponent of the RH bill, believes the RH authors and advocates have the numbers inside and outside Congress, despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
In a press statement, Lagman said that the bishops' forecast of 140 congressmen opposing the RH bill mocks the independence and individual consciences of congressmen whose constituents overwhelmingly favor the enactment of the RH bill as documented by empirical and periodic surveys.
He claimed that RH authors and advocates have the numbers inside and outside Congress.
House bill No. 4244 is entitled "An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development and for other purposes."