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Sotto asks Senate to scrap ‘redundant’ RH bill

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III on Monday asked the Senate to scrap the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill since many of its provisions are already present in existing laws. Sotto said that many of the provisions in Senate Bill No.2865 or The Reproductive Health Act of 2011 are already present in Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women. "It's actually a copy and paste," he said during his interpellation of the RH bill. Sotto, a devout Catholic, specifically cited certain provisions in both measures which provide for women's right to health, such as access to a full range of methods concerning reproductive health. He also said he is worried because the RH bill has a repealing clause that says any law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation "contrary to or is inconsistent" with its provisions shall be repealed, modified, or amended "We don't want this law to prevail over other laws," he said. Because of this, Sotto suggested that important provisions of the RH bill not present in existing Philippine laws just be made into or incorporated into implementing rules of the RA 9710. "Why don’t we study the possibility [of doing this], then you don't offend the other sectors," he said. Senator Pia Cayetano, co-sponsor of SB 2865 and chairman of the Senate health committee, said she will consider Sotto's suggestion. "We can look [into] that. The committee welcomes proposed amendments [to] make the bill more comprehensive," Cayetano said. "[But] that will not prevent us from continuing the debates." Sen. Joker Arroyo, for his part, asked the Senate to continue the debates another time because it was getting late. The Senate session adjourned at past 6:30 p.m. "This bill is really difficult. [It] taxes the mind, [it's] intelligently stimulating but very hard to understand. I think we need a rest to understand this," he said jokingly. Sotto granted Arroyo's request and moved to suspend interpellation. - Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News