MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has asked President Benigno Aquino III and his colleagues to respect his decision on the reproductive health (RH) bill.
“I have always supported the programs of the administration that I thought are good for the country but I have also my own mind. I have also my own notion of what will be good for the country. I think that this one is not among them. So, I have to beg off. I’m not impeding. I’m only one vote. I’ll render a negative vote,” he said.
Officials of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) claimed hearing reports that Enrile will be removed as Senate president in order to get the RH passed.
Enrile, who has not denied hearing news of coup d’etat several times against his leadership, said: “I’m at the disposal of my peers. As I’ve said, I have no torrens title over the position of Senate president but at anytime, one like me could lose a seat if your peers do not agree with you and they have the numbers to unseat you.”
Nonetheless, the Senate will not be pressured in case their colleagues at the House of Representatives finally make a vote this week, as was reportedly discussed between lawmakers and Aquino during a luncheon meeting Monday.
“We will do our jobs here without being pressured with whatever the other House will do,” Enrile said.
Aquino already wants a vote on the RH bill this week so that this can finally be tackled in a bicameral conference,
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said after meeting with the president in Malacanang.
Enrile said the pro-RH bill lawmakers may have “aces in their sleeves” if they intend to finish the processes before the Christmas break.
Asked if he would go to Malacanang in case he is invited, Enrile said he will. However, “I will beg off [changing mind] respectfully and I think he will understand.”
He said he will stand pat on his position. “I will not base my decision on this particular bill on moral ground or religious ground although those are important to me. I confess I’m a Catholic and a Christian. I believe in my faith but over and above that, I see that in my own mind, maybe I’m wrong but that’s my decision, my view, it will not bring about the long term future of this country.”