Fulfilling his pledge that the controversial reproductive health bill will be enacted before 2012 ends, President Benigno Aquino III has signed Republic Act 10354 or the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012” in Malacanang last December 21. Click this link to download the full text of RA 10354 (credits to Rappler.com for originally uploading the file).
Online news outlet Rappler.com noted that Aquino’s low-key signing of the law stands in contrast with the great deal of attention that the measure received from supporters and opponents alike throughout the many years it has languished in Congress.
RA 10354 is the consolidated version of House Bill 4244, which was primarily authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin) and Senate Bill 2865, which has Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago as its main author.
The law will come into effect fifteen days after the publication of all its contents in at least two national newspapers. Malacanang has already published a text version of RA 10354 in its official website. This blog will also be posting its entire content.
I have always been open about my support for the RH bill (still not used to referring it as a “law”!). It is a pleasure to get to know advocates and fellow supporters in the past few years that I’ve written about the measure, including Ms Chi Laigo-Vallido (Forum for Family Planning and Development), Ms Elizabeth Angsioco (Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines), Mr. Ramon San Pascual* and Ms Maida Ojeda of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development and Juan Carlo Tejano and Gibby Gorres of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines. (Note: Mr. San Pascual is now with the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians for Population and Development in Bangkok, Thailand).
Honestly, I had hoped that Malacanang would organize a formal signing ceremonies for this landmark law in the presence of RH advocates (see for example this 2010 video of United States President Barack Obama signing the law which repealed the long-standing policy prohibiting gays in the military). Those who campaigned for the passage of the RH bill for over a decade now deserved that moment.
Aquino can also use that moment to give a full-throttled defense of his support for the initiative (again, like what Obama did). But on another thought, he probably did not want to offend the Catholic Church by being perceived as “spiking the ball” after scoring a win. Oh well, RA 10354 will never come into being without his decisive support.
I’m sad to note that two of my professors in University of the Philippines-Diliman, Dr. Josefina Cabigon (UP Population Institute) and Dr. Ma. Lina Nepomuceno-Van Heugten (UP Psychology Department), did not live to see this day. Wherever they are, I know this news will make them happy.