President Aquino delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech in the House of Representatives on July 23, 2012. Photo courtesy of MNS

MANILA, July 23 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday asked Congress to pass the controversial reproductive health (RH) in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Aquino said responsible parenthood is one of the ways to address classroom and textbook backlogs in public schools.

“Ngayong paubos na po ang backlog sa textbooks, sana po ay maiwasan na rin ang backlog sa estudyante. Sa tingin ko po, responsible parenthood ang sagot dito,” the President said in his speech.

Aquino’s endorsement of the RH bill was met with a long applause from members of Congress. Some pro-RH lawmakers even gave the President a standing ovation.

In the same speech, the President also pushed for the passage of the “sin tax” bill, which he said will fund government projects for maternal health care.

“Malaki ang maiaambag ng sin tax bill. Maipasa na sana ito sa lalong madaling panahon, mababawasan na ang bisyo, madadagdagan pa ang pondo,” he said.

Aquino has earlier identified the RH bill as one of his administration’s priority legislations.

He also renewed his promise to give land to farmers before his term ends in 2016.

In his third State of Nation Address (SONA), Aquino said his government is doing its best to distribute all lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to its tillers.

“Ang atas ng batas, ang atas ng taumbayan, at ang atas ko: Bago ako bumaba sa puwesto, naipamigay na dapat ang lahat ng lupaing sakop ng CARP,” he said in his speech before members of Congress.

Aquino’s family owns Hacienda Luisita, whose distribution to farmer-beneficiaries has been ordered by the Supreme Court.

The President also vowed to fast track land distribution under his term, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).