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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        17 January 2011

Reproductive health bill moves to Congress

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THE controversial reproductive health (RH) measure and the freedom of information (FOI) bill are on top of Congress' agenda when it resumes sessions today.

Deputy speaker for Luzon and Rep. Lorenzo Tarada 3rd of Quezon province on that he sees the committee level approval of both measures by next month, after which these would be tackled at the bicameral conference committee level.

"Our target is by February, those bills would be approved in the committee level," Tarada told The Manila Times.

The House official added that they could be voted upon and passed immediately by the House of Representatives.

But the lawmaker assured that there would be no "hasty" or "haphazard" approval of both bills, which are considered to be two of the most contentious pieces of legislation in the 15th Congress.

Both the RH and FOI bills had been filed in previous congresses but were not approved. The FOI bill was not passed in June 2010 because of the lack of a quorum. The RH bill, on the other hand, enjoys the support of both the majority and minority blocs despite harsh criticisms from the Catholic clergy and other groups opposed to the measure.

Among the bill's principal authors are House Minority leader Edcel Lagman and Representatives Janette Garin of Iloilo (First District), Arlene Bag-ao of Akbayan party-list, Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list, Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello of Akbayan party-list, Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa and Augusto Syjuco also of Iloilo (Second District).

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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