RH Bill and the Future

News Release
June 10, 2012

Highlights of interview of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
On TalkThursday: ‘RH Bill and the Future’
As interviewed by Maria Ressa on rappler.com
June 7, 2012


“I’ve gone through one whole year with nine senators interpellating repeatedly. Some of them took the floor three times, four times, many at least twice. And though I am a very patient person, I’ve had to explain many times the same things over and over again, which I also do so that people understand the issues.”

“But at some point, we have to move on. Just like in the impeachment, remember how they said, ‘People need to see that the Senate makes a decision.’ I feel the same way for RH. [Let’s] take it to a vote.”

“If we look historically on our Senate…there’s such a thing where bills [are dribbled] like a ball and then just die a natural death. I don’t want that to happen. I wanted people to take a stand and get to a point where we can vote on it.”

Hopefully, I see this moving forward to the period of amendments. What happens is the committee makes amendments, and this should be interesting because I did pick up a few interesting points from my colleagues… And then from there we go to individual amendments, where [senators will] propose and this is where I would have to accept or reject certain proposals. The issues will range from sex education and budget.”


“Believe it or not, I had to explain on the session floor how difficult it would be for a woman with eight children to still earn a living and contribute to the family’s income if the husband does not have a job and the wife wants to contribute.”

“I had to explain these things over and over again, because a couple of my colleagues are against the [idea] that the State must pay for contraceptives. They feel that people must pay for it [themselves]. And they feel that if people understand what contraceptives can do for them, in terms of family planning, then they should make their own responsible decision.”

“[But] while we are at this level of poverty, wherein we still have a few million people living at that level, they cannot pay for their own contraceptives, unfortunately.”


“We have the principle of Separation of Church and State in our Constitution. What does that mean? That means that we recognize that even one Filipino who has a different view is entitled to the full exercise of his civil rights [even if] he has views and beliefs that are different from other Filipinos. And that means [the State] cannot deprive all Filipinos [of a social service] just because in one Church, [they] don’t believe in it.”

“In fact, I encourage the Church to continue its advocacy because that is their right…But it doesn’t mean that we can restrict our views to a pure Catholic view. We have Muslim brothers, we have non-Catholic Christians — many of them need and want access to reproductive health services. And for that matter, many Catholics want access to reproductive health services.”

“What I also try to clarify is that once we roll out reproductive care, counseling, and all that, it is included in the RH bill that any person will be counseled on both natural family planning, which is acceptable to the Church, and artificial methods — and then they can decide [which method to use].”


“I know that [President Aquino] has many things on his plate [but] I do not think he’s backing off in any way. But yes, it would help if he was a little bit more vocal about it. Maybe he can help in the House [of Representatives] a bit because it’s in there where [the bill is] a little bit stuck right now.”

“[Deliberate efforts to delay the bill] disappoints me, because that to me is a sign of an immature political system. You got to raise it to the level of debate, let the people talk about issues. Let people see the votes of the people they put into office…People [should] have access to [information on] how their lawmakers vote.”


“They continually link any access to contraceptives and information to legalizing abortion. Time and again, I’ve explained we have a provision in the bill that women [suffering from post-abortion complications] deserve compassionate care. They need medical attention. Yes they did wrong, but don’t crucify them. On the Senate floor a number of my colleagues could not understand this. They felt that it was trying to legalize abortion.”

“I’ve seen documentaries where women [resorted to abortion] because they already have eight kids and they’re crying. They cry for the loss of life. But none of us have the right to treat this person as if she’s not human. So that’s what I was trying to address. And for people not to understand, that made me ask: ‘Do we live in a society that’s inhumane now? That we’re now taking into our own hands [the decision] to penalize this woman?’”


I interact with people from different walks of life through Twitter and some of them are students from the province. Some of them are mothers from different economic backgrounds and they share their ideas. And although many are not yet ready to understand what we’re trying to achieve with RH, many are opening their minds, and that’s why I feel now is the time. If we don’t act now, we don’t move forward. I’m hoping that this bill passes. But if not, we’ve paved the way for me to do this all over again.”


“My mom was a preschool teacher so I’m very comfortable talking about this. You only explain to children what they are capable of understanding. Believe it or not, most kids will only ask you up to what they are capable of understanding too. So they’re just going to say, ‘Where did I come from, mom?’ ‘From mommy,’ that’s it. Then they’re only going to ask further when they’re older. That’s sex education. And my sex education includes educating the parents, because if you don’t educate the parents who’s going to talk to them about it? Where are they gonna learn it from? On the internet? Through porn? That’s what’s going to happen.”


“When I was a child, I didn’t understand why my yaya called my private part a ‘flower,’ and I was like, ‘a flower?’ Because my mom called it what it was – a ‘vagina.’ And there’s nothing indecent about it because that’s how I grew up.”

“We have to make it a more comfortable topic. I have an interesting anecdote on that as well. A question was asked on, because there is a phrase [in the bill] that is ‘satisfying sex life.’ And the only reason why it’s there is because it defines reproductive health as including [among others] a satisfying sex life.”

“Aask any couple. What couple would tell you sex is not important? At different stages in your life it may change, it probably is [important] when you are newly married. It may not be as important when you just had your baby. Then it might get important again in your senior years when you are rekindling the love. How can that not be important? Many people separated because they are no longer attracted to their spouses. So that has to be a component.”


“You know that’s why I think I’m a runner. That’s why God made me a marathoner, a long distance endurance triathlete. My friends and my supporters say that they admire my patience. I say that yeah, I think that’s why God made me a runner. So as a runner, I wake up the next day and run again. I could come back with my mind full of happy thoughts.”

“I think I was brought up that way. I was always multi-tasking. In college I was a member of the UP varsity and I was scared of my dad so I had to study hard. And I was very active taking care of my younger brothers. Believe it or not, my mom was a working mom, so I really felt like I raised [my three younger] brothers. I went to law school, I did my first marathon while I was in law school, I was the head of our sorority. And when I became a lawyer, I breast-fed my baby for a whole year, my time for sports was during my lunch break, I just am that way.”


“I’ve always been a general supporter of the Sin Tax. I think it’s consistent with my way of life. I’ve received enough information even on social media alone comparing the sin taxes in other countries while some say it’s [consumption] not affected, but no matter, it is a deterrent. Like students, how can a student afford a P50 cigarette? They could probably afford it at P5. If you are a responsible person you just make it more difficult for them.”

“Unfortunately what happens is that people are going to…make the sin tax issue an anti-poor issue. But for me, I really challenge, especially the youth, the students, to ask yourself: “Are you depriving the poor of a vital commodity? Or are you providing them with other opportunities to use their money wisely?” Because by saying that you’re depriving the poor of cigarettes of alcohol because it’s more expensive, well maybe they should be spending it on food for their children, maybe they should be spending it on clothing, on housing. Maybe the government can use [revenues] to support that than have them sitting smoking and drinking.”#

Photo: Reproductive Health (RH) Bill sponsor Senator Pia Cayetano with rappler.com’s Maria Ressa

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