Minority leader Suarez also sees approval on 3rd reading
MANILA, Philippines – Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman believes that the passage of House Bill 4244, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, will not encounter any hitch on third and final reading at the lower House.
Lagman, the measure’s principal author, said on Thursday that the margin of votes between those for and against the bill may reach 20.
The bill was passed on second reading following a vote of 113-104, with 3 lawmakers abstaining. But only 217 of the 287 representatives were present.
“Palagay ko lalong lalaki ang lamang sa third reading pagkat ang ating mga kasama na hindi nakaboto ay mas marami doon ang pro-RH,” Lagman told dzMM.
Lagman added that there is a possibility that those who voted against the measure will change their mind.
“Baka ‘yung mga bumoto na anti, may posible doon na pwede bumaligtad,” he said.
Lagman said he believes that a majority of their counterparts in the Senate are for the bill.
He said he is seeing “steady support” from about 11 to 13 senators in favor of the measure.
Pressure from Malacañang?
Lagman said that while there may be pressure from Malacañang to approve the bill, there is also pressure coming from the Church to reject it.
“Bakit hindi natin tignan ang Simbahan. Nababalanse naman ang pressure, mas obvious pa nga ‘yung pressure sa Simbahan. May pananakot pa na hindi iboboto sa pagdating na eleksyon,” he said.
He added that there is no evidence of a solid Catholic vote against the bill.
“Sabi sa survey na 71% of Catholics, gusto nila isabatas ang panukalang ito,” he said.
Lagman also said he hopes the President would certify the bill as “urgent” so it will be ratified before Congress goes on recess.
“Hopefully, ito ay ma-certify ng ating Pangulo, mas bibilis ng proseso. Baka by Christmas break, mara-ratify na ang dalawang bersyon ng Kamara,” he said.
“That’s the option of the President but considering that time is of the essence, at kailangan mas mabilis ang proseso eh palagay ko ay pwede pag-isipan ng Pangulo na pwede i-certify ang panukalang ito,” he added.
'This is lawmaking'
Meanwhile, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who voted against the bill, said he has already accepted the fact that, if the trend continues, the bill will be approved by next week.
“At the end of the day, this is lawmaking. Kung sino ang mas may numero, ‘yun ang masusunod,” he told dzMM in a separate interview Thursday.
“[We have] nothing to offer except makikiusap nalang kami sa clergy na mag-kampanya pa ang mga bishop to convince those who haven’t voted yet na tulungan ‘yung kanilang paniniwala, that’s it, prayer,” he added.
However, Suarez questioned the administration’s intentions in openly showing its support for the bill, saying the President should have left the congressmen to decide for themselves.
“Bilib ako sa Pangulo, after two and a half years walang accusation ng corruption. That’s what makes his administration strong and his popularity getting stronger pero this is one fight na nagtaka ako why he had to pick,” he said.
The President earlier said he is for responsible parenthood, and that the decision to either approve or reject the measure is a matter of conscience.