Last night, the House of Representatives put an end to the 19-month discussion on the RH Bill. Through viva voce voting (oral voting), the majority of the Congress decided in favor of pushing the bill forward, enabling it to go through a series of amendments, leading to a second reading. According to the an article by the Philippine Star, the second reading is the “crucial approval of any measure.” In the same article, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of the measure, remains positive that the RH Bill will get approved even on the third and final reading before the month ends. “We have a calibrated move for this,” Lagman was quoted as saying.

The vote came 24 hours ahead of schedule, after a meeting with the President. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that President Aquino made a "diplomatic appeal" and called the lawmakers to make a "conscience vote," saying that the debates should already be terminated. However, the meeting did not force the House to vote in favor of the RH Bill, as the President only wanted to put the interpellation to an end.

“The President also made it clear that he was not telling lawmakers to vote for the bill,” Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II was quoted in saying. “He just wanted an end to the debates, which had been going on for years.”

“He was not very forceful. He did not issue a marching order. He was just appealing, but I think it was a masterstroke on his part to make that bold move to appeal to all the members of Congress, regardless of whether you are a supporter or anti-RH,” added Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, as quoted in the same article.

(Photo by noyava via Flickr Creative Commons)

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