MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday said she is delighted with President Benigno Aquino III's move to certify the controversial reproductive health bill as urgent.
"President Aquino is my hero! He has cut the Gordian knot! I am very enthused with him. This is manifest proof of executive leadership. By one stroke, he has ended the time-wasting prevarication of the last 13 years over the RH bill," Santiago said in a statement.
"Other presidents shirked their duty, but President Aquino rose to meet the challenge, and he has slain the monster," the feisty senator added.
Santiago explained that with Aquino certifying the bill as urgent, the three-day waiting period between its second and the third readings is effectively removed.
She said the certification means the Senate can already proceed to third and final reading after it is done with the second reading on Monday, December 17.
She said the bicameral conference committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives can already meet by Tuesday, December 18. The lower chamber on Thursday approved on second reading its version of the bill.
With this development, Santiago said it is possible for the two chambers to ratify the bicameral report by Wednesday, before going on Christmas break.
"President Aquino will be able to approve the bill starting Thursday, December 20, or at any time within 30 days after he receives it," she said.
Santiago argued that it was right for Aquino to certify the highly divisive bill as urgent since 13 to 15 mothers die every day due to childbirth complications.