Deliberations of  Congressmen at the House of Representatives on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill are cut short due to the lack of quorum. Photo by Carla Patricia S. Perez

06 December 2012, 7:54 p.m. – PRINCIPAL authors of the “reproductive health” (RH) bill in the Senate have rejected an amendment requiring the written consent of parents before minors are given access to contraceptives.

On Tuesday (Dec. 4), Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago rejected the proposal by Sen. Ralph Recto to require written parental consent. Prior to this, Recto’s amendment to remove from local governments the responsibility of putting up hospitals for obstetrics and newborn care was turned down by senators with a 9-8 vote.

“The second Recto amendment, which is still pending, states that minors should get the written consent of their parents before they can buy contraceptives. Again, the co-sponsors, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Santiago opposed the amendment,” said a press release from Santiago’s office.

The RH bill had been promoted as a “responsible parenthood” bill as well as a measure that would reduce maternal deaths. The sponsors of the bill, however, have rejected proposals to limit access to contraceptives to married couples.

Majority of senators also voted, 11-6, to reject changes to definitions of key terms in the bill last Tuesday. As it stands, the RH bill will make it a legal obligation of the government to make sure people have a “safe and satisfying sex life,” as well as “pleasurable and safe sexual experiences.”

Anti-RH senators led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said state guarantees to “pleasurable sex” need not be legislated.


Santiago said she “could smell victory in the air” for the RH bill, based on Tuesday’s decision of the Senate to vote down four proposed amendments, although a number of senators were not present during the deliberations.

“The voting showed that the RH group in the Senate has core support from at least 11 senators. There are actually more, but some were absent last Tuesday,” Santiago said.

Meanwhile, deliberations at the House of Representatives were cut short last Wednesday (Dec. 5) due to lack of quorum.

Batangas Rep. Herminaldo Mandanas sought to amend a provision in which poor households would be prioritized by RH services, proposing that the word “families” be used instead.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal sponsor, revised the line to “shall prioritize the needs of poor women, men and children in marginalized families and households.”

Lagman also agreed to put the phrase “sound replacement rate” in the guiding principles of the bill. It now reads: “Since human resource is among the principal assets of the country, maternal health, safe delivery of healthy children and their full human development, sound replacement rate and responsible parenting must be ensured through effective reproductive health care.”

Another amendment was inserted to highlight the promotion of natural family planning methods, which are endorsed by the Catholic Church.


House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte said he was “cautiously confident” the RH bill would be passed before the Christmas break.

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez told the Varsitarian: “There’s a public pressure to resolve this (measure) either way.”

“You know, we are [congressmen who responsibly oppose each other here]. We will not unreasonably oppose,” he added.

Last Monday (Dec. 3), President Benigno Aquino III put pressure on lawmakers to vote on the controversial bill in a Malacañang luncheon. Reden D. Madrid and Cez Mariela Teresa G. Verzosa


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