RH bill passes House on final reading

MANILA, Philippines - All it needed was a final push from the President. 

After a 14-year delay, the House of Representatives on Monday, December 17, passed the RH bill on 3rd and final reading.

A total of 133 lawmakers voted in favor of the measure while 79 voted against it and 7 abstained. A total of 199 out of 287 lawmakers were present in the voting.

This marks the first time in history that the measure, which seeks to provide reproductive healthcare services, including contraceptives, hurdled the House of Representatives. 

President Benigno Aquino III certified the bill urgent Thursday night, December 13, hours after the House of Representatives approved the measure before dawn of the same day with a slim margin of 113-104-3.  

The Philippines is now one step closer to having a Reproductive Health law as the RH Bill also passed the Senate with a 13-8 vote on 2nd reading. The 3rd reading vote happened in both Houses of Congress at the same time. Senate is still voting on the measure on 3rd reading. 

All that's left for the RH Bill is to go through the bicameral conference committee that is tasked to iron out conflicting provisions on the measure and produce a report to be ratified by both Houses of Congress before the final version is transmitted to the President, who can then sign it to a law. 

Despite staunch opposition from the Catholic Church, lawmakers managed to maintain the numbers to finally pass the measure that has lagged in Congress for the last 14 years. 

Although Malacañang will not impose a timeline for the bicam, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President "certainly" wants to sign the measure into a law before the end of the year. 

"Certainly. He said in the dinner that he hopes this would start with a mandate where the House is no longer divided. That we can work together for the common good," Lacierda said. 

Two weeks before the House approved the RH Bill on second reading, Aquino invited solons to a luncheon in Malacañang to signify his support for the RH Bill. - Rappler.com

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