Four Negros Occidental congressmen voted yes, two voted no and one abstained when the reproductive health bill was put to a vote at the House of Representatives on second reading last night.
As of 1:07 a.m. today nominal voting was still ongoing with 95 congressmen having voted yes, 85 no, with three abstentions.
House Bill 4244 seeks to institutionalize access to reproductive health information and services, such as contraceptives.
In Bacolod, Bishop Vicente Navarra last night led the burning of an effigy of death in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City to dramatize the Church opposition to the reproductive health bill and other measures that go against the teachings of Christ.
The burning of the effigy capped a procession of about 500, mostly students from Catholic schools, around downtown Bacolod to pray for Congress to reject the RH bill, that was followed by a mass at the Cathedral.
The Negros representatives who voted yes to the RH bill were Mercedes Alvarez (6th District), Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (3rd District), Julio Ledesma IV (1st District) and Alejandro Mirasol (5th District); while Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (2nd District) and Rep. Anthony Golez (Bacolod) voted no.
Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (4th Distirct) said he abstained because the bill being voted upon is no longer similar to the one he authored in the 14th Congress and he did not have enough time to study the amended version.
Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) said he voted yes to the RH bill because a substitute bill incorporated many of his desired amendments.
Rep. Julio Ledesma (Neg. Occ., 1st District), who explained his yes vote on the floor, said his father, Charlie Ledesma, espoused and acted by deed to provide all possible aid in family planning as a solution to population explosion.
If family planning was relevant to his father then how much more so now, he said.
Golez, who explained his no vote on the floor, said as a doctor by profession he is God-fearing and respects life from conception.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares who is from Bacolod City also voted yes to the RH bill.
Among the Negros Oriental representatives, Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District) took the floor to say she was voting yes to responsible parenthood, while Pryde Henry Teves (3rd District) voted no.
Rep. Manny Pacquiao (Sarangani) voted no saying he is pro life.
“What happened in Vegas strengthened my belief in the sanctity of life,” he said, apparently referring to his knockout during his fight with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.
Bishop Navarra, earlier in the evening, said he hopes through prayers that God will enlighten the country’s legislators to vote according to the pro-life teachings of Christ by rejecting the RH bill.
The effigy of death that he torched in front of the Cathedral symbolizes their opposition to death bills, he said.
DEATH stands for Death, Euthanasia, Abortion, Total population control, and Homosexual unions, Monsignor Felix Pasquin, rector of the San Sebastian Cathedral, said.
“We are praying for the enlightenment of everybody. The will of God should prevail with respect to life, all methods of contraception and manipulations against human life should be stricken out,” Navarra said.
“We are praying that God will touch the hearts of our congressmen so that they will vote according to their conscience and respect human life and uphold it at all cause by rejecting the RH bill,” he added.
He also called on the faithful to continue to pray that the bill is not passed.
Pasquin said the Church–led activities yesterday were to create awareness of the need to be pro-life in accordance with the teachings of Christ, and to pray for the non-passage of the RH bill.
“We must uphold the right to life of every human being from the moment of conception,” Pasquin said.
If the State does not uphold this right to life its very foundation based on the law is undermined, and it will gravely contradict God’s precepts, he also stressed.
The Church is also concerned about the health of women, he said.
Studies show that the use of contraceptives result in chronic diseases, and cancer, Pasquin said.
He also noted that European countries are now searching for solutions to their declining populations and China is moving towards lifting its one- child policy.
Those who joined the procession carried placards that said “Save the unborn, save humanity”, “RH will destroy the morals of the youth”, “No to RH bill”, “With RH more calamities (Pablos) to come! Warning to PNoy!”, “RH is money for multinational contraceptive manufacturers,” and the “The young are anti-RH.”*CPG