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RH bill tops senate agenda

Reserves an hour and a half for two days a week until debate closes

RH bill tops senate agenda
Protesters demonstrate against the reproductive health bill in Manila reporters, Manila

September 6, 2011

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The senate has reserved one-and-a-half hours on Mondays and Wednesdays to debate a proposed law on reproductive health (RH), after 14 senators voiced support for the schedule. In a manifesto issued yesterday, the senators agreed to have the RH bill top the agenda of sessions on the two days, until the debate is closed on second reading. “In the daily agenda, the RH bill should be called first, provided the debate for each day shall be limited to one-and-a-half hours to accommodate other pending bills,” the manifesto stated. The senators, who started the debates Monday, said this was to show support for President Benigno Aquino’s  recent statement that priority should be given to the bill. Aquino risked the ire of the Catholic Church when he voiced support for the RH bill, which includes protections for artificial contraception. “In the spirit of cooperation, and in order to enhance the constitutional right of the people to information on matters of public concern, without committing ourselves to a particular vote on the RH bill, we support the calendar for RH bill debates,” the manifesto stated. RH advocates will hold a “Purple Ribbon Day” campaign tomorrow to push for passage of the bill. The organizers are asking the public to wear purple clothes, display purple ribbons on their homes and cars, and light candles at exactly 6pm. Opponents of the bill, meanwhile, have scheduled a protest event in the president’s home province of Tarlac on September 17, according to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The event, entitled "Run for Life, Run for Mama Mary, Run against the RH bill,’ is also being held as a belated celebration of the Virgin Mary’s birthday on September 8 and as a manifestation of the people’s opposition to the [bill] currently being debated in both chambers of Congress," the CBCP said in a statement yesterday. Related reports: Politcians back Church on health bill Aquino fails to mention health bill

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