Leaders of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives on Monday pressed for the passage of the controversial reproductive health or family planning bill which has been pending before Congress for the past 15 years.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House of Representative Speaker Feliciano Belmonte also called on members of parliameny to consider as a priority measure the equally contentious proposal to amend the constitution.
Another proposal deemed urgent for approval by the two legislative leaders was the freedom of information bill as the two houses met in a joint session to hear President Benigno Aquino deliver his third state-of-the-nation address.
In pushing for its approval, Belmonte said the family planning bill is already in plenary debate and has been thorough discussed in past congressional sessions.
I think it is time we finally put it to a vote,” Belmonte told the legislature, referring to the family planning bill which mandates government purchase of contraceptives particularly the pill and condom for distribution to poor couples who want to limit the number of the children under the concept of informed choice. “Let the chip fall where it may,” he said.”The same goes for the freedom of information bill.”
In the Senate, Enrile reiterated his call to amend the economic provisions of the constitution to encourage the entry of more foreign investors.
Enrile and Belmonte cited the urgent need particularly to amend the provisions banning land ownership by foreign businesspeople and limiting their investments to 40 per cent with the remaining 60 per cent belonging to their Filipino partners.
The push for constitutional changes has emerged as a major contentious issue mainly due to fears that its proponents would use it to amend a provision limiting the term of the president to just six years with no re-election.
Aquino earlier opposed the move to amend the constitution which was drafted during the term of his mother the late democracy icon president Corazon Aquino following the ouster of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in 1986.