3 September 2012
On RH bill delay: ‘Enough of the drama, let’s get this done’
Transcript of interview of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Senate 2nd Floor Hallway
Topic: Reproductive Health (RH) bill delays
Q: [Reaction to statements that RH debates in the Senate will extend until June, 2013]
SPSC: Everyone familiar with legislative work knows that what we do not finish in a particular Congress is considered shelved, not done. Parang binasura. So for any of my colleagues to say that a bill will have to be taken up in the following Congress is already telling us that there is no intention to pursue this bill, and I’m extremely disappointed to hear this because there is so much time to work. What time do we go home? We get to go home at six o’clock. Everyday I say I am ready to continue the deliberation of the RH Bill. Why all of a sudden there’s no time? And to say that there will be a lot of amendments, that’s fine, I’m prepared for that. The process of amendment is something that I have been through with all my measures. Understandably, there will be quite a few. I have already accepted some from other colleagues and I’m prepared to accept more on the floor. So I am extremely disappointed. I cannot interpret this in any other way except to say, ‘na kung ayaw mapasa, ayaw.’ But let’s put it to a vote within the fifteenth Congress kasi karapatan ng taumbayan na makita na nagtratrabaho ang kanilang Senado. Para sabihin na one year to go from now, hindi na naming kayang tapusin, kahihiyan naman iyon sa mga kababayan natin. Even though we know na may budget session and sometime by February magkakaroon ng leave dahil mangangampanya ang mga kasama natin, well ano bang ginagawa natin this week? Next week? O ‘pag resume ng session namin after the September break? Ready naman po tayo eh. Pwede naman kami ng alas otso ng gabi ni Senator Miriam, alas nuwebe. So nakakadismaya na may nagsasabi sa taumbayan, na pinaparamdam na hindi na matutuloy itong RH Bill.
Q: But will you push for a vote on the floor before the end of the (inaudible)?
SPSC: Well, iyon nga ang nakakapagtaka eh. Matagal na tayong ready to have the amendments. I cannot push for a vote until I go through that process of amendment, and I’ve been patiently waiting. Hindi niyo naman ho akong naririnig na nag-aalburuto sa floor. Binibigyan ko naman ng due time and mga kasamahan natin to take part in the deliberation. I have patiently been doing that, so nakaka-iksi lang ng pisi to hear these things. We are still waiting for the turno en contra to be completed, as you very well know. Siyempre nagka-bakasyon tayo ng ilang linggo, dalawang araw dito, isang araw doon. So nag-aantay tayo patiently pero wala naman ho sanang ganyan na ipaparinig sa taumbayan na hindi na matutuloy ito. Kabastusan naman po iyon sa mga naghihirap na maipasa itong bill na ito. Kung matalo sa botohan, eh di matatalo. But people deserve to hear the vote of their legislators.
Q: Does it make it more powerful kasi no less than si Senate President ang nagsasabi na posible nga siyang ma-push sa 2013?
SPSC: It makes it more embarrassing.
Q: Ma’am, are you open to iyong sinasasabi ni Sen. Tito Sotto na ‘pag natapos ‘yung amendments, hindi na raw makikilala ‘yung RH Bill in its present form?
SPSC: Siyempre naman, kayo naman, alam niyo namang drama naman iyon ano? Let’s not be dramatic about it. It is a bill that is important. It is a bill that people have concerns with, and obviously, we will accept amendments. Obviously, there might be some issues about it. Let’s just do it. Tama na ang drama, let’s just go through the process.
Q: Ma’am, mukhang ipu-push nila iyong pagtanggal sa contraceptives as part of ‘Essential Medicines.’
SPSC: Okay, I’m very happy that you mentioned that – tatanggalin daw ang contraceptives bilang essential medicines. Mga kababayan, konting homework naman. Hindi ko po introduction iyon. It [contraceptives] is already part of essential medicines [under the Philippine National Drug Formulary]. Ilang taon na pong ganoon iyon. Nilalagay ko lang po in the form of a law iyong practice na. Wala ho akong binabago, wala hong introduction na ginagawa – that is the practice in many countries around the world. Recommended ng WHO na maging part of essential medicines ang contraceptives.
Sabi nila hindi raw nakakalunas ng sakit ang contraceptives. Simple lang po iyon. There are mothers who cannot get pregnant again, because of hypertension, because of various reasons. Kapag nabuntis sila, mamamatay sila. Ano ho tawag doon? Ang tawag ho doon is ‘preventive.’ Pine-prevent na mamatay ang nanay. I don’t have to be a doctor to understand that, and neither do the Filipino people. Let’s not mislead them. I am not misleading them. I am very transparent. If there is something in the bill that is confusing, I will change it. If there’s something in the bill that is inconsistent with what I am trying to achieve it, we will change it. But tama na itong drama, tama na itong inuunahan na naman ang principal sponsor on what the intention should be, and what the future of this bill should be. Put it to a vote and let’s end it.
Q: Do you get the sense nga na delaying tactics, very obvious na ba?
SPSC: Oh yes, don’t you feel it? It’s in the air.
Q: Ma’am, pero open kayo doon sa idea na baka nga mabasura siya or baka mabalik siya from (inaudible)
SPSC: Hindi ako open sa idea na iyon. That’s a terrible idea! Put it to a vote. It’s so embarrassing to the Filipino people na uuwi kami ng alas singko, alas sais ng hapon, kasi ‘wala kaming time.’ Tama ba iyon? Eh iyong mga ibang government officials nag-o-overtime eh, tapos kami uuwi ng alas sais dahil walang time para mag-RH? Ganoon ba iyon? Pabayaan na lang mamatay ang mga nanay kasi wala nang time? What is that? Say you don’t want this measure, vote against it. But don’t tell me we don’t have time, because we have time.
Q: Ma’am, nag-usap na kayo ni Senator Miriam about itong mga…
SPSC: Of course, I keep her up-to-date.
Q: May nasabi po ba siya? Tatayo po ba siya ngayon sa floor para ma-push nga iyong amendment?
SPSC: As of last week, siyempre, sabi ko nga sa inyo, we’re so respectful. We’re so supportive naman. Binibigyan namin ng time ang mga kasamahan natin. Pinapatapos naman po natin kay Senator Tito iyong kanyang turno en contra. So wala kayong naririnig sa amin. Pero kung ganito naman, delay pa ng delay, subtle nga lang pero delay pa rin, may mga ganyan pang hirit, eh napapagod na ako.
Q: Ma’am, si SP [Senate President] po, balak niyo po bang kausapin?
SPSC: Nakakausap ko naman parati. I always talk to him about it. He knows that there’s nothing more to talk about. He knows very well where I stand. I’m very happy to talk pero at some point in time, tama na iyong talk. Let’s just get this done.
Q: Sa tingin niyo, ma’am, lulusot iyong RH, matatapos, despite sa stand ni SP?
SPSC: I will put it to a vote no matter what happens. Mahiya na lang mga kasamahan ko if they refuse to vote on it.
Q: Despite the fact na hindi pa tapos iyong process?
SPSC: Ah hindi ko naman pwedeng anuhin iyon, but along the way, there are things that I can do to ensure that we move to the next step na kung gusto nilang harangin iyon, eh di harangin nila. Let the people see what they’re doing. I’m just saying na all this time, I’ve been very patient allowing every colleague of mine to have that opportunity to participate.
Q: Nauubos na ba pasensya niyo?
SPSC: Hindi naman. Pagpalagay mo na 21k iyong tinakbo ko, kaya ko naman mag-42k. Minsan lang medyo inom ka ng tubig para may patience ka pa ng konti.
Q: Ma’am, can I get your reaction? Iyong DOH Secretary po ng ARMM, sabi po mapapasa na iyong RH Bill by the end of the…
SPSC: Buti pa sila, buti pa sila. And in many local government units, I give thanks and I commend the local government officials who have on their own taken it upon themselves to do this [implement a local RH ordinance]. And of course, I also commend the DOH Secretary himself, na without a measure, pinu-pursue niya, kasi alam naman po natin na supported ito ni President P-Noy. Now let me answer the question that I know will be the next one. ‘O eh bakit kailangan pa ng bill?’ Eh kasi nga po, kailangan may continuity tayo. Kahit wala na si P-Noy, tuloy-tuloy ito. And so that wala na ring questions on what exactly is the coverage of RH.
Q: Ma’am, until when niyo hihintayin si SP?
SPSC: Hanggang… kakanta ba ako? Maraming kantang pang-sagot diyan. Like I said, I’m patient but I just don’t like playing games and I think it’s due time that we move on. After the turno en contra, I’ll be ready for the committee amendments.
Q: Ma’am, kung ganoon nga karami iyong amendments, parang sinasabi nila na dahan-dahanin, isa-isahin.
SPSC: Nakita niyo ba iyong RH Bill? Hindi naman ganoon kakapal diba? Kahit palitan nila ang bawat provision doon, hindi naman aabutin ng next year iyon. Bigyan lang ng sapat na oras, matatapos iyon. Ngayon kung ayaw bigyan ng oras, kahit one page [lang ang bill], hindi matatapos di ba? Ganoon lang iyon.#
Photo: Sen Pia Cayetano (2nd from left) leads the opening of the photo exhibit ‘Padede,’ which can be viewed at the Senate 2nd floor hallway from Sept. 3-6, 2012.