Aquino certifies RH Bill as 'urgent'

Finally heeding the clamor from pro-Reproductive Health (RH) Bill supporters, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday announced that he has certified the RH Bill as urgent. "I actually certified it tonight," Aquino said Thursday evening.

Related story: Proponents vow more votes for RH next week

Despite his obvious support of the measure, Aquino chose to express it in a low-key manner. He explained that while he is fully aware of the powers that come with the “urgent” certification, he uses it sparingly, save for emergencies. "Medyo makunat ako mag-certify [kasi] ano, mayroon kasing mga constitutional provisions. Kung state of emergency, kailangan ng supplemental budget, sigurado ise-certify ko yan," Aquino said.

On the contrary, the president said that he didn't believe that the RH measure, which seeks to allocate government resources to procure artificial contraceptives, is equally urgent. Aquino's announcement of the certification was unexpected as the Palace has repeatedly been lukewarm about the possibility of it being given. A bill that has been certified as urgent bypasses the three-day rule between readings in the legislature, effectively fast-tracking it. 

'Lawmakers' request' 

Meanwhile, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang on Thursday also said the lawmakers themselves had requested the President into certifying the RH bill as urgent. "[He certified it due] largely [sa] request din ng lawmakers sa House...," Carandang said. "Pero maski yung sa Senate din, nagpaparamdam na." 

Related story: RH fight in final stage

Recalling the tense neck and neck nominal voting that stretched from Wednesday night to early Thursday morning, Carandang said he was happy with the results of the second reading vote at the House. However, he stressed that nobody should let their guard down. "The lesson here is to never be kampante (complacent)," Carandang said. 

This was especially true for the RH Bill, given that it has languished in the legislature for at least 14 years. "Tingnan niyo young dinadaanan niya sa House, sa Senate. [And even before] this failed to pass how many congresses," Carandang added. "Parang sin tax rin yan eh, ang lakas ng lobby." 

But compared to Aquino's near tardy certification of the RH Bill, the President tagged the also controversial Sin Tax Bill as urgent early in November. This, even in the face of a powerful tobacco lobby. The certification paved the way for the sin tax bill to sail through Congress. It was fully approval Tuesday night, making the measure just shy of Aquino's signature before full enactment. — DVM/LBG, GMA NEWS

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