A number of amendments for the Reproductive Health (RH) bill proposed in the senate were approved on November 19.

According to an article on Inquirer.net, the upper house accepted Sen. Ralph Recto’s proposed amendment to not require local government units (LGUs) to provide RH services to its constituents. The senate also agreed to exempt private institutions from the mandatory provision of RH services, making reproductive health care a primary responsibility of the national government.

Sen. Recto had pointed out that LGUs are already dealing with several responsibilities and should not anymore be responsible for providing health services. “How much will this cost the LGU, with all these mandates?” he was quoted as saying. “If we can’t answer the question of how much, it will be very hard to have a new mandate.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago supported the amendment, saying, “You cannot send to jail any local official if he can’t carry out his mandate because the government is not giving him money. I think the fear is misplaced.”

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile also presented six of his own amendments, of which three were approved: the deletion of the International Conference on Population and Development as one of the international organizations that the Philippine government must comply with; the adoption of a provision guaranteeing equal rights of children and the unborn, and the definition of abortifacients as “any drug or device that induces abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb.”

(Photo by Franz Lopez via Flickr Creative Commons)

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