After 7 congresses, repro health bill is still pending

SPEAKER Prospero Nograles yesterday declared the reproductive health bill dead with only one session day left before Congress adjourns session for the national campaign period which begins on February 9.

"We cannot accommodate that (RH bill) in the last session days. There are still 20 congressmen who have lined up for interpellation (on the measure)," he told reporters in a briefing.

Nograles said time is not on the side of the measure which has been in the House since 1987.

He said he does not want the chamber to waste time deliberating on measures that will not be enacted for lack of material time.

"We will only take up measures that we can pass. Otherwise, we will be tied with debates on bills that we can’t produce anymore," he said.

Nograles also dismissed the proposal of Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (PMP, Cagayan de Oro) for the House to ask President Arroyo to call for a special session to accommodate many pending bills.

Nograles said the problem boils down to the House’ constant problem of attaining a quorum, especially since the election fever has already set in.

"The special session is a judgment call of the President, if she feels that some of her measures are not yet acted upon. But the problem is, can we have a quorum?" he said.

The House’ final agenda does not include House Bill 5043 which promotes family planning to arrest the country’s population problem.

Sessions will adjourn Friday but will resume on May 31 when the two Houses serve as the national board of canvassers for the presidential election.

The reproductive health measure has been stuck in the period of interpellation despite being at the top of the agenda since Congress resumed session on December 7.

It is up for second reading approval but has not been tackled during the last few session days, forcing its principal author Rep. Edcel Lagman (Lakas-Kampi, Albay) to give up and just re-file it in the incoming Congress.

Source: Malaya, Feb 3, 2010

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