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Friday, August 04, 2006

No Kill Bill 2 for HB3773

House Speaker Jose de Venecia vowed there would be no Kill Bill 2 for the controversial bill on population management, which is expected to galvanize not only the Congress but the whole nation as well. "We will not kill this bill," said De Venecia to an audience of provincial media last May 22, 2006 at the Office of the House Speaker. "At the end of the day, the bill would have to be debated," he said. House Bill3773, also known as the Responsible Parenthood and population Management Act of 2005, is up for plenary. A bill similar to it has not seen the light of day during the past Congress. "Both sides are strong and powerful. On one side, the population explosion is a reality and we can no longer support our people and our resources are dwindling. On the other hand, we have to contend with the encyclicals and opposition from the Church," De Venecia said. Majority House Leader Nograles said that they have to tackle tackling bills certified urgent by the Office of the President like the abolition of the death penalty and the electoral reform bill. "We know this is a controversial bill (HB 3773) and we have a powerful lobby against this but we are determined to take this up," said Nograles. He also said that the bill had been calendared before their July 8 recess. "Previously, whenever the bill is up for discussion, a lawmaker opposed to the bill would question the quorum and that means we have to call everybody downstairs," Nograles said. "I have to be very frank, it would not be smooth sailing," he said. "I propose that each and every lawmaker in the House would vote on the basis of their conscience and not on political parties," De Venecia said. "We will have a full debate for and against the bill and we will have full transparency," he said. "There should be no biases and prejudices," he added.

"I see the population explosion as a problem and I see no solution. But personally, I have only one vote,' De Venecia said. According to the political mapping made by the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), there are 100 representatives who are authors of HB 3773 and there are 53 who are against it. There are nine authors who are wavering and seven non-authors who are supportive. PLCPD said the battle would be on the 66 who are neutral. According to the political map, De Venecia and Nograles are listed as neutral. The PLCPD is an NGO established in 1989, whose 62 members are legislators advocating population and development concerns. Majority of the undecided said that they still need to know more about the bill. A few said that they have been approached by their bishops. "Vote for what's good for the country," De Venecia said.

HB 3773 calls for age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education from Grade 5 up to 4th year high school; retraining of barangay health workers on the delivery of RH services with a 10 percent increase in honoraria; provision of a mobile health care service van for each congressional district and implementation of RH in the workplace. Two children per family shall be encouraged but not mandatory or compulsory and no punitive action would be made on those having more than two children, the bill said.

Article by: Frank Cimatu
Media Coordinator, Mt. Province
Photos by: EV Espiritu
Media Coordinator, Ifugao