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Aquino popularity rests on RH passage

PRESIDENT Benigno C. Aquino III may see his high popularity rating plunge if he continues to refuse to certify as urgent the controversial Reproductive Health bill, a party-list lawmaker said. Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan Rep. Angelo Palmones said President Aquino should show his political will by supporting the bill, which he said teaches Filipinos how to manage their families, in spite of the vehement opposition of the influential Catholic Church. “President Aquino must certify as urgent the RH bill before Congress resumes session this Jan. 16. His economic successes since June 2010 will surely be dwarfed by the increasing needs of our growing population,” Palmones said in an interview. Earlier, Commission on Population executive director Tomas Osias claimed that the country’s population is projected to increase from by 1.7 million to 97.6 million this year from 95.8 million based on the data from the National Statistics Coordinating Board. Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan underscored the need for a law that will provide maternal health care for women and their infants. Ilagan added that the RH bill is among the feasible solution to arrest the growing population. She said it is the duty of the government to make the delivery of health care services safe and affordable for the people. “We should pass the RH bill because the statistics show that the Philippines will have an increase in population,” Ilagan said in a separate interview. “Women, especially poor women have an unmet need to plan their families and to receive health services but which they cannot do because they don’t have access to safe, affordable ways and to maternal health care,” Ilagan said. She explained that Gabriela’s stand is that the RH can address maternal and infant health care, and not necessarily control population. The House of Representatives failed to pass on second reading the controversial bill before Congress went on Christmas break last Dec. 17. This prompted House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to call on Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to implement the rules of engagement that would guarantee the expeditious plenary proceedings of the highly-divisive measure and ensure its passage before Congress goes on Lenten break this year. House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II earlier hinted that the measure may die a natural death in the present 15th Congress, saying the fight remains an uphill battle despite the presidential imprimatur and its inclusion among one of the additional priority bills of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council. Gonzales stressed that some allies in the majority who are also ranking leaders of the House of Representatives have been opposing it like Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia. The United Nations estimated the global population at seven billion, with the Philippines as the 12th most populous country in the world.
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