Bicam meeting set Wednesday to tackle RH bill

December 18, 2012 11:33 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Dec. 18 – The formal bicameral conference committee meeting has been set Wednesday to tackle the disagreeing provisions of the Reproductive Health Bill which both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last Monday.

The bicam was supposed to meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday but Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III opposed the manifestation of Sen. Pia Cayetano to name, as principal sponsor of the bill, the Senate panel due to lack of time to read the printed copies of the House and Senate versions of the bill.

”I’m sorry but I have to object,” Sotto said in objecting to Cayetano’s manifestation to allow herself and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Ralph Recto, Aquilino Pimentel III and Sotto to become members of the Senate panel.

”We have no clean copy yet. We want to read it first. These are not yet formally transmitted to the House of Representatives. That’s the procedure,” Sotto added.

Sotto, who voted against the passage of the RH bill Monday, said Senate Rule 12 Section 35 provides that the Senate President (Juan Ponce Enrile) should be the one to name the Senate panel to the bicam.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile agreed with Sotto, saying “we should follow the rules of the Senate.”

Cayetano, however, explained that she based her manifestation on the “common practice” which allows chairman of the sponsoring committee of the proposed bill to appoint members of the panel.

”It has been the practice of the Senate that the chairman is given that privilege of appointing members,” Cayetano said.

As Cayetano insisted on her right to appoint the Senate panel members and push the 4:30 p.m. bicam meeting, Sen. Franklin Drilon intervened and suggested for Cayetano and House panel members to hold pre-bicam meeting to discuss what to do Wednesday during the formal bicam meeting.

”During the break we suggested (a) solution. The principal (author) of the measure will conduct a meeting with her House counterpart at 4:30 this afternoon. This will not be a bicam. This will be a pre-bicam basically like technical working group to see the provisions,” Drilon said.

Drilon’s suggestion was accepted by Cayetano and Sotto.

The names of the 12-member House panel has reached the Senate.

They are Reps. Rogolio Espino as panel chairman, Edcel Lagman (House bill sponsor), Janette Garin, Henedina Abad, Erin Tanada, Mel Senen Sarmiento, Antonio Tinio, Roilo Golez, Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., Kaka Bag-ao, Danilo Suarez and Cesar Sarmiento. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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