MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III asked House members to vote on the reproductive health (RH) bill this week, Malacanang confirmed.
In a caucus at the Palace on Monday, the President said that a week "should be an adequate time" to discuss amendments that will "genuinely improve the bill" and not kill it.
According to a statement from Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Aquino said the legislators can no longer afford to postpone the vote on what he described as a "divisive" measure. He said it is part of the legislators' responsibility to finally make a choice.
“Leadership comes not just with perks, but also with responsibilities, and among those responsibilities is that of making a choice. He asked how anyone could oppose offering parents the opportunity to make informed choices about the number of children they have, and about having the fullest opportunity to understand the requirements for raising healthy offspring,” Lacierda said.
At the same time, Aquino reiterated his position in favor of the measure, saying that he would vote for it if he were a member of the lower House.
He stressed the need to provide parents with information about the size of their families and "understand the requirements" for raising healthy children.
Aquino recalled his visit to Baseco compound where he met a 16-year-old mother who had just given birth to a second child but not having enough means to support her growing family.
Aquino asked the House members to consider "what kind of future" awaits the children of poor families whose needs cannot be met.
Aquino urged the House members to use their conscience in making their decision.
"The President said that such a situation posed a challenge of conscience and leadership to all those who have put themselves forward to serve their constituents. Can you, the President asked, in good conscience, consent to the perpetuation of this state of affairs?" Lacierda said.