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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lagman laments moot attacks vs reproductive bill

By Ephraim Aguilar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:08:00 09/27/2008

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman deplored the “irrelevant attacks” on the reproductive health bill thrown by opposing lawmakers during deliberations in Congress on the controversial population measure.

Lagman, principal author of House Bill No. 5043 on reproductive health, referred to the long-winding debates, which were mostly queries or objections on the procedure and technicalities of the bill’s approval at the committee levels.

The bill was approved by four committees in the House of Representatives—health, population and family relations, appropriations and rules.

Deputy House Speaker Raul del Mar raised alleged “technical defects” in the approval of the bill by the health committee and the population and family relations committee, which jointly approved the bill without a dissenting vote.

Del Mar questioned the legitimate funding support and reproductive health advocacy of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation Inc.

In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Lagman said he was confident the bill would still be passed despite the “dilatory tactics” of those opposing the measure.

“Delay is not victory,” he said.

Lagman’s daughter, Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, also defended the bill from Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez who proposed that discussions on the bill be deferred.

Golez said the bill not only divided the country but also took away focus from the more important task of addressing the world financial crisis.

Lagman-Luistro said that when “financial crisis” was on the table for discussion, so should “population” and “quality of life.

We have to understand that the reproductive health bill is not only a measure on population management but also a way of uplifting the Filipinos’ quality of life, especially in these dire times,” she said.

Lagman-Luistro also hit lawmakers who said the bill was not necessary since artificial contraceptives were already available in stores.

Availability does not necessarily mean access. This bill will eventually have funds to ensure people’s access to contraceptives,” she said.

She added that there were now at least 99 lawmakers supporting the measure.

When Lagman-Luistro represented the first district of Albay in Congress in 2001, she authored House Bill No. 4110 or the “Reproductive Health Care Act,” which served as the basis for her father’s HB 5043.

The bill promotes the use of both artificial and natural means of family planning, among others, which is being opposed by the Catholic Church, religious groups and even President Macapagal-Arroyo.