Press Release
December 17, 2012

Explanation of Vote on the RH Bill
By : Senator Ralph G. Recto

No bill is chiseled in stone. Hindi ito lapida na nakaukit sa bato.

Because no bill is perfect, it is polished through debate and discourse, without which the faults and the flaws will never be straightened out.

So it was in this spirit that I engaged the sponsor in an exchange of views, not to cripple the bill, but to improve it, not to weaken but to strengthen it.

I believed that if this bill is about responsible parenthood, then we should be responsible midwives of its birthing.

Bills are like tapestries, and we collectively weave them into law. Thus, the amendments I introduced were not meant to unravel the bill but to supply it with threads that will make the finished fabric stronger.

And I am glad that the sponsor gladly accepted 20 of my amendments, and the body affirmed 10 more.

I thank the sponsor for her consensual stance and her very compromising position.

True, I lost half a dozen proposals but that is the beauty of this chamber. Disagreements are resolved through a vote, and when you lose one, you bow to the will of the majority.

The fact that we spent months debating this bill proved that we are not an assembly that would vote on a bill based on its title nor would we craft policy because we are swayed by its publicity.

We appraise a bill not on the barrage of tweets by its supporters or opponents but on its merits.

We wade through the prose, because no legislation, especially complex ones, can be distilled in 140-character tweets. As we do not judge a book by a cover, we also don't judge a bill by its title.

And at the end of the day, we base our vote on what is not trending but on what we believe is right.

As it is written now, I am glad that bill has been rid of its unpalatable provisions.

- State-sponsored population control was removed - The sanctions on employers have been expunged. - Parental permission on activities has been restored. - Equity of national government in RH programs has been required.

The last one to me is important as I frown upon mandates this bill will impose on local governments without the corresponding funding.

You and I know that the budgets of our provinces, cities and towns are under pressure from legislated earmarks, from climate change mitigation to salary adjustments, with the national government providing only saliva participation.

We should avoid putting LGUs in one RH straitjacket. We should recognize local initiatives and the flexibility to select from a buffet of choices.

For after all, RH is not a rubber, meaning it is not one size, fits all.

So when a town opts for natural family planning method, then let us respect that choice.

When a barangay hit by outmigration dangles incentives for babies born to reverse population decline, then we must respect that prerogative.

When a city installs condom dispensing machines and pill vendos on overpopulated barangays, then we must support that initiative.

While this bill prescribes a lot, it cannot ordain many of the things that we truly want.

By itself, this bill will not create a social Utopia, bring us to our economic Shangrila, and place the nation in a state of Nirvana.

Gusto ko ring sabihin sa ating mga kababayan na basta na lang umanib sa alin man panig ng pro-RH at anti-RH - this is not a fast-acting poverty reduction tool:

- Hindi po dadami ang bigas sa inyong hapag kainan - Hindi po bababa ang presyo ng mga bilihin, gasolina, kuryente, tubig, renta, pamasahe, tuition at sine. - At hindi darami ang trabaho.

This is but one small bill in a raft of measures that must be implemented for our nation to be progressive and peaceful.

In closing, may I appeal to the sponsor to maintain fidelity to the version as approved by the Senate, that she enters into bicameral talks hoisting proudly our banner, and not the white flag of surrender.

I will vote 'Yes' today your honor on the condition that dead provisions will not resurrect like zombies, and newly-birthed ones will not be slaughtered in this third chamber.

If the Senate contingent will watch idly by as our amendments will be subjected to bicameral abortion, that what will be returned here will be mangled version beyond recognition, then I will exercise my option to vote in the negative.

News Latest News Feed