MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Boyet Gonzales has allegedly confirmed that the Reproductive Health Bill will no longer be passed during the 15th Congress, Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Kimi Cojuangco said Thursday.
Cojuangco said she decided to bare the truth after she was told by the majority leader to “shut up” about the bill.
In her Twitter account, the congresswoman said she went to Gonzales last week and pleaded with the House majority leader to tell her the truth. Cojuangco is a staunch advocate of the RH Bill.
“I started by saying, I am tired of fighting to death. I go to every single interview and do what I can to get this bill passed. So I pleaded w/ him to please tell me the truth,” she tweeted.
“Well, this is what he told me. ‘Wala na yan. Forget the RHBILL. If ever baka 16th Congress na lang. We can just repackage it.’ I was flabbergasted and said ‘So why are you leading Manong Edcel (Lagman) along? Why are you saying something different in front of Speaker (Sonny) Belmonte?’ I can't accept this!” she added.
The congresswoman said she kept the matter to herself but decided that she could not handle “this kind of blatant politicking any more.”
“No way will I keep quiet. We were all being brought for a ride by such trapo style politics. So there, the truth is out,” she said.
“If there is a change that has to happen with regards to politics, so be it. I know that I am supposed to play ball but I can't live with myself if I just become one of the many that will just accept things as they are. If this means that I should not be a member of the House of Representatives, OK lang sa akin. I would rather not be a Rep than be there and be a part of a big LIE!”
Lack of quorum
Cojuangco earlier called Gonzales ineffective, weak and lacking in leadership for the constant absenteeism of congressmen every time the RH bill would be tackled.
Lack of quorum has persistently delayed passage of the bill, which is supposed to go through the period of amendments already.
Gonzales has said passage of the RH Bill may have to wait a little longer because of difficulties of reaching a quorum. He said they need at least 141 pro-RH lawmakers to be present in order for the bill to be voted upon by the members of the Lower House.
"Wish ko lang, kahit 150 kami pero kung split in half naman ang numero, it will be difficult. We need to sustain a quorum," he said.
He said House Speaker Sonny Belmonte may call a caucus to determine the possible date to tackle the RH bill with a proper quorum before they take the Christmas break.
He added he and Belmonte have tried their best to talk to congressmen but some are just not coming to the lower House sessions.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino earlier said the lack of quorum in the plenary of the Lower House is "slowly killing" key legislations up for second and third reading.
"Many representatives are not even appearing in plenary. In fact, yesterday, we had a historic low attendance," Palatino said.
Only 70 members responded to the roll call in the plenary session on Wednesday.
"The chronic absenteeism of my fellow legislators could spell doom to important legislations such as the Reproductive Health Bill," he added.
In the eight days wherein Congress held sessions since its resumption on November 5, a quorum was only reported last Monday, November 19. This allowed the House to pass the K-12 Bill on third and final reading.
“But on days when no key Malacañang-backed bill is to be discussed, we hardly see the plenary hall get filled," Palatino said.
"It's not surprising at all. Many congressmen only go to sessions when there is pressure from their political parties to attend, just like what happened on Monday. On other days, fellow legislators don't bother to show up. It's a behavior I have often observed when election season is near," he added.
There are only 12 plenary sessions left before Congress adjourns on the third week of December. To give way to the campaign period for the upcoming elections, Congress will resume session for only 15 working days next year, from January 21 to February 8. With reports from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News