EXPLANATION OF AFFIRMATIVE VOTE ON HOUSE BILL 4244
OF REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN
This bill is not about sex. Neither is it about religion. It is about human rights, maternal and infant health and sustainable human development.
The hallmark of this bill is freedom of informed choice. This bill recognizes that neither the State nor the Church has the authority to compel the citizens or the laity to follow a particular family planning method. The choice belongs to couples and women who shall freely and responsibly determine the number and spacing of their children.
The nexus between human development and population is too close and interrelated to be ignored. While this bill is not a population control measure and has no demographic target, it pursues a sound population policy that addresses the population issue because sustainable human development cannot be attained without first solving the population problem which impacts adversely on all major human development indicators - education, healthcare, food security, mass housing, employment and the environment.
The substitute bill has already addressed the objections, concerns and reservations of critics.
This bill does not duplicate existing laws. It has substantial innovations not found in current statutes. In fact, it strengthens existing laws. The Magna Carta of Women (MCW) is not duplicated by the RH bill because the MCW is for women while the RH bill is for all. It is relevant to place on record that many of the bicameral conferees who crafted the final version of the MCW signed the conference committee report with the express colatilla that their conformity was without prejudice to the subsequent enactment of a reproductive health law.
It is constitutional because what the fundamental law prohibits is abortion, not contraception. The RH bill repeatedly acknowledges that abortion is illegal and punishable and is not included in the menu of family planning methods. In fact, there is no Philippine statute which prohibits the manufacture, procurement, distribution, sale, prescription and use of contraceptives which have been medically validated as not abortifacients.
The sponsoring committee, through this Representation, rejected the attempt of anti-RH colleagues to insert a provision on “when life begins” because legislators do not have the competence to resolve this issue which no less than medical authorities and the international scientific community have so far failed to determine. Moreover, the proponents made fertilization synonymous to conception which are different stages of the reproductive process.
Our people have spoken. Survey after survey show that the great majority favor the enactment of an RH law.
I beseech our colleagues to be true representatives of their constituents by voting in accord with the people’s genuine choice.
Let us be true representatives of our people, not centurions of an established religion.
Let us have children by choice, not by chance.
I vote yes.