Philippines: President rallies pro-RH congressmen at Palace

A day ahead of the crucial vote to end plenary debates on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, President Aquino is trying to woo at least 150 members of the 285-man House of Representatives to vote in favor of the controversial measure.

A lawmaker, who is not a member of the ruling Liberal Party but is allied with the administration coalition, revealed the move in a text message sent by a Malacañang official on Friday, inviting them to a luncheon at Malacañang today.

A senior Church leader also confirmed that Aquino is going to meet with “anti-RH” lawmakers today in the effort to convince them to change their position on the proposed measure.

“He is set to meet with lawmakers on Monday around lunch time. P-Noy (Aquino) will try to convince them. I hope they don’t get convinced,” Lipa City Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said.

He said they have received information that Aquino is set to discuss with the lawmakers the Responsible Parenthood (RP) bill, Malacañang’s version of the RH bill.

About 150 congressmen have so far reportedly confirmed attendance to the presidential invitation. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, however, was apparently unaware of the invitation to all of Aquino’s allies in Congress.

She said this was just limited to members of the ruling party who will hold a caucus.“The invitation is not for House leaders. The Liberal Party will be having its caucus at 1 p.m.,” Valte said.

“So we do not know the agenda since I am not a member of the Liberal Party. Presumably, they would discuss what concerns the party,” she said.

The House is set to take a crucial vote tomorrow whether to terminate the period of debates on House Bill 4244, or the proposed Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011.

Aquino is expected to explain his stand and logically seek the support of the House leadership, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., in marshaling the lawmakers into voting in favor of the RH bill, of which Aquino’s RP measure is included.

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