People rally outside congress in Manila on August 6, 2012 for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. Philippine legislators were Monday poised to pass landmark birth control laws, despite lobbying by the Catholic church, the bill's author said

(Updated 6:44 p.m.) Voting 13-8, the Senate on Monday finally passed on second reading the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

At the House of Representatives, legislators approved its version of the legislation on third and final reading on Monday in an overwhelming 133-79 vote with seven abstentions.

The RH bill appears almost certain to be passed into law, hastened by President Aquino's push of the bill as "urgent" last week.

It promotes the use of both natural and artificial methods of birth control, responsible parenthood, and the education of the youth on reproductive health issues.

The influential Roman Catholic Church, which supports only natural family planning, has strongly opposed the bill.

Critics also argue that the measure seeks to curb the country's population, which currently stands at 94 million, and promotes promiscuity.

Parental consent Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senators Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manuel Villar, Bong Revilla, Vicente Sotto III, and Gregorio Honasan voted against the passage of the bill.

On the other hand, Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Loren, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Francis Pangilinan, and Ralph Recto voted for the measure.

As of this posting, the senators were explaining their votes for the third and final reading of the bill.Senator Pia Cayetano, co-sponsor of Senate Bill No.2865 or The Reproductive Health Act, first sponsored the measure on June 7, 2011.

But it only hurdled the period of interpellation almost a year later.

Since then, several senators have moved to introduce amendments to the bill during the period of committee and individual amendments.Included in the major amendments are: the removal of the mandate on local government units (LGU) to provide health care services to their constituents; and the requirement of parental consent from minors who wish to gain access to RH services, including contraceptives, from public health facilities.House approves bill on final reading

Supporters of the RH bill, formally known as House Bill 4244, managed to increase their numbers Monday to lead the measure to its passage.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who approached the rostrum during the voting and registered an emphatic "Yes" vote, led the pro-RH legislators in passing the Palace-certified measure.

Last Thursday, the RH bill squeaked through second reading at the House in a 113-104 vote with three abstentions. — Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ/HS/YA, GMA News
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