Santiago praises Pres. Aquino; sees Senate to pass RH bill on Monday

December 14, 2012 11:03 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Dec. 14 – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago praised President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday for certifying the Reproductive Health bill as urgent, saying it would lead to its passage in the Senate on Monday.

Santiago, principal author and co-sponsor of the controversial RH bill, noted that while other presidents shirked their duty, President Aquino “rose to meet the challenge, and he has slain the monster” when he certified the RH bill as urgent last Thursday night.

”President Aquino is my hero! He has cut the Gordian knot! I am very enthused with him. This is manifest proof of executive leadership. By one stroke, he has ended the time-wasting prevarication of the last 13 years over the RH bill,” Santiago said.

Santiago, a law expert, said the Constitution provides that the President’s certification removes the three-day waiting period between the second and the third readings of a bill.

”This means that immediately after closing the period of second reading, the solons could proceed immediately to the third and final reading,” she explained.

”Under the Constitution, the President certifies to the necessity of the immediate enactment of the RH bill, to meet a public emergency. The emergency consists of the mounting deaths every single day of Filipino mothers, from the poor, owing to childbirth complications, brought about by sheer ignorance of RH. According to the latest surveys, 13 to 15 such mothers die everyday,” Santiago said.

The Senate is already in the period of amendments with Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to take the floor as the last senator to introduce individual amendment. Sotto is against the passage of the measure.

Earlier, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada proposed to pass the bill on second reading on Monday and hold a special session on Thursday to follow a three-day waiting rule before formally approving it on third and final reading.

But with the President’s certification, Santiago said the Senate can already proceed to third and final reading after voting to close the period of second reading.

”The President’s certification means that, as early as Monday, the Senate can already proceed to third and final reading. The same can be said of the House of Representatives,” Santiago explained.

Last Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted 114-103 with three abstentions to pass the RH bill on second reading. The third and final reading is set on Monday.

”By Tuesday, the bicameral conference committee of the two chambers can already meet. Therefore, it is possible for the two chambers to ratify the bicam report by Wednesday, before going on Christmas break,” Santiago said.

The Senate will officially adjourn on Dec. 21 for Christmas break.

Santiago said President Aquino will be able to sign the RH bill starting Dec. 20 “or at any time within 30 days after he receives it.”

Meanwhile, Sotto said the RH bill will divide the nation with the decision of President Aquino to certify it as urgent.

”It’s obvious now that what I have been saying all along is true, that this is a foreign imposition for their so-called Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and one of which is to depopulate third world countries. Feel sorry for Philippines!,” Sotto said.

Aside from Sotto, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has openly expressed his opposition to the passage of the RH bill.

Despite opposition from Senate leaders, Senator Pia Cayetano, co-sponsor of the bill, expressed optimism that the RH bill will get needed votes for its passage. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

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