Palace: With RH law, PH can move on
MANILA — Malacañang confirmed Saturday that President Benigno Aquino III had signed into law Republic Act (RA) 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
In a statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President signed the new reproductive health law last Dec. 21.
Valte, in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, said that with the President’s action, the government and civil society organizations can now move forward for greater cooperation.
“The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history—a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society,” she said.
“At the same time, it opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation among different sectors in society: engagement and dialogue characterized not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people,” she added.
This kind of engagement and dialogue is the hallmark of a true democracy, Valte said noting that this encourages people to debate through deeply-held beliefs and values that enrich and elevate public discourse.
Whatever the disagreements, people must work together to find ways to improve the lives of Filipinos, she said.
Asked by reporters how the administration intends to reach out to the Catholic Church after the approval of the bill, Valte said that both sides can cooperate on many other areas.
“While the Responsible Parenthood Bill may have been a very contentious issue between government and civil society and other sectors, there are so many areas that we can move forward on; we have many other areas of cooperation that are possible for us to be partners in, particularly environment and other advocacies,” she said.
The Palace official also fended off accusations that the bill was signed by the President in secrecy. The President signed it on Dec. 21 because he has engagements to attend to after Christmas and he wanted to make sure that he approves it before the year ends, Valte said.
The President also signed other legislations aside from Republic Act 10354, which also been released to the media, she added.
The Palace confirmation came two days after micro-blogging site, Twitter, was abuzz with reaction over the supposed signing of the RH bill into law.
On Friday night, a close ally of President Aquino confirmed that the RH bill had been signed last Dec. 21, just two days after the bicameral conference committee report was ratified in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In a text message to reporters, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said: “PNoy (Aquino) signed into law without fanfare the RH Republic Act last Friday Dec. 21. RH is now Republic Act 10354.”
One of the main authors, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Rep. Janette Garin (Iloilo), said it was Aquino himself who requested for a non-ceremonious signing of the RH Lw.
“We agreed with his call for early reconciliation for the sake of the nation and the Christmas spirit. Ceremonies are not that important. What is important is our government’s political will to implement pro-poor and pro-people measures,” Garin said in a text message.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, also one of the authors, said the RA 10354 was signed in the privacy of Aquino’s study room in order “not to exacerbate” the conflict with Catholic Church leaders.
“Women worldwide who have been anticipating the enactment of an RH law in the Philippines rejoice with the vast majority of Filipinos in celebrating the elevation of the bill into a statute,” Lagman said.
Valte, meanwhile, allayed fears that the new law would compel families to use artificial contraceptives and that it would require families to set a particular number of children. She said the government will post the copies of the law on the Internet so that the public can look at its provisions.
Also she clarified that the fund for natural family planning centers will be separate from the allocation intended for artificial family planning methods given to health centers.
The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, has already been published online in the Official Gazette, after having been signed by Aquino on Dec. 21, 2012.
The law will take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation. (Kathrina Alvarez/SDR/Sunnex)
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