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House panel okays proposed initial funding for RH bill

February 16, 2011 12:42pm
UPDATED 2:00 p.m. - The controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill moved another step closer to being a law on Wednesday after the House Committee on Appropriations approved the proposed initial funding for the measure.

In a 20-3 vote, members of the House appropriations panel agreed to the proposed initial funds for the implementation of the RH bill from the budgets of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Commission on Population (POPCOM) for this year, if the measure is enacted into law.

Under Section 30 of the consolidated RH bill in the House of Representatives, the initial funds for the implementation of the measure, if signed into law, shall come from funds left of the DOH and POPCOM’s Family Health and Responsible Parenting budget.

A total of P731 million was allocated to the Family Health and Responsible Parenting budget of the two government agencies in the 2011 General Appropriations Act.

If the bill becomes a law, it shall be allocated funds in subsequent national budgets, according to the measure.

House Minority Leader Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the proponents of the bill, said that the initial amount will most likely be spent on information campaigns on reproductive health if the bill is enacted into law.

“The bill is now progressing towards enactment," he told GMA News in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved a consolidated version of the controversial measure, which will pave the way for plenary debates on the RH bill in the coming weeks.

If the chamber approves the measure, it will submit the bill to the Senate for consideration.

The Senate can either pass its own version of the bill or adopt the bill passed by the House.

After this, the bicameral conference committee will be convened to reconcile the respective versions of the House and Senate.

Once the bicameral committee approves the bill, it will be returned to the House and Senate for approval on third reading.

It will then be submitted to Malacañang for the signature of the President.

Highly-debated issue

The RH bill has been highly debated by pro-life and pro-choice groups.

The Catholic Church promotes only natural family planning and is opposed to the use of artificial birth control methods such as condoms and birth-control pills, saying these could lead to promiscuity and a rise in abortion cases.

However, RH advocates say natural family planning methods have not proven to be as reliable as artificial means of birth control.

The bill seeks to guarantee "universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information."

However, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra said in December last year that according to Catholic teachings, any action that directly or indirectly destroys and kills life is against the Fifth Commandment ("Thou shall not kill") and is thus immoral.

He said the orientation of the RH bill is towards:
  • the legalization of abortion;
  • the use of abortifacients; and
  • the promotion of the use of artificial birth control.

    Navarra said the bill is against the Philippine Constitution, which mandates that the State shall protect the right of the unborn from conception which begins at fertilization. – VVP, GMA News



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