MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is confident that there are enough votes to enable the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, apparently unperturbed that advocates against the measure have gained support from former President Arroyo and her allies.
“You can never tell until the vote is there. But we are confident that we have support,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said.
President Aquino earlier endorsed the Responsible Parenthood Bill, which lawmakers said is a consolidated version of different versions of the RH Bill.
Carandang said the Palace respects the position taken by Mrs. Arroyo but hopes that legislators will “see the wisdom of the measure” as Congress prepares to vote on the measure.
“There’s a bill that is pending that has the support of the administration and for various reasons, even before the former president was released from jail and weighed in on this issue, there were people who opposed it. And so we respect the democratic space in which the debate is being undertaken. At the same time, we hope that our friends in Congress will see the wisdom of this measure,” he said
Carandang indicated that there are efforts to build support for the measure. When asked if the President will rally his allies to support the bill, Carandang said, “Just because things aren’t happening in full view of the public doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. I believe there are efforts underway to build support for this measure.”
He said the measure has been “long overdue.”
“It’s an important measure that we’re not viewing in terms of partisan politics. It’s something that we feel is long overdue and needs to be done and we’re doing it in that context. I understand that there are observers who are viewing this in that way. But we’re simply looking at it right now as a measure that has oppositors, that needs to go through the process and we’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Carandang also pointed out that the Palace held dialogues with members of the Catholic Church and that their concerns have been incorporated into the Palace-backed measure.
“We respect their right to disagree with this measure. We hope they also respect our right to think, to advocate for measures that we think is for the good of the country,” he said.