MANILA, Philippines – A Catholic bishop on Thursday blamed President Benigno Aquino III for supposedly pressuring some members of the House of Representatives to vote for the controversial reproductive health bill.
House Bill 4244 moved a step closer to passage after the lawmakers, voting 113-104, approved it on second reading.
Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, in an interview after the historic voting, blamed the president for allegedly influencing the decision of some lawmakers regarding the controversial measure.
"Please don’t pressure. Leave the congressmen to decide for themselves. After all, that's what PNoy said – conscience vote – but in fact it was not really conscience vote," he said.
Aquino recently met with the members of the lower house to appeal them to finally put the divisive measure to a vote.
Some church leaders raised their eyebrows on this move, saying the president was using the pork barrel as leverage to entice lawmakers to vote for the bill.
Reyes, along with other members of the Church hierarcy, stayed in the lower house gallery until before dawn Thursday to see the outcome of the voting.
He said the lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure "will live to see the bad consequences of the bill."
The Church is expected to mount more activities as the bill is set to be put to a vote for third and final reading next week.
Meanwhile, staunch RH supporter, former Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, said she is glad that their efforts have finally yielded a positive result.
With a more intense showdown of words in the offing, Hontiveros-Baraquel appealed to the anti-RH groups to respect their opinion.
"We both fought our best, hanggang sa huli. Asahan ninyo na gagalangin namin ang opinyon niyo sa isyung ito. Pero buong puso din naming ilalaban na maging batas na ito," said Hontiveros-Baraquel, addressing anti-RH bill advocates. – with report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News