We owe it to the people to decide on RH

News Release
06 September 2012

Transcript of interview with Sen. Pia S Cayetano
Topic: RH bill committee amendments, etc.
Senate session hall (after adjournment of session)
05 September 2012

Q: Ano po yung reaction n’yo kanina sa naging reaction ni Sen. Enrile?

PSC: Sa akin naman po, pinu-put on record ko lang kung gaano katagal nang nakabinbin etong Reproductive Health bill. Nilagay ko kung ilang araw, for one year na nagde-defend ako, nagpapaliwanag ako kasi, wala naman ho akong pinipigilan na tumayo at magtanong, magbigay ng sarili nilang statements. Pero nakikiusap ako ng fairness din sa paggamit ng oras [ng Senado]. Alam naman po nating lahat, at alam namin [mga senador], na ilang araw na lang ang naiiwan, magbe-break kami, tapos po pagbalik namin, magbu-budget na kami, so alam ko at alam din ng mga kasamahan ko, na talagang bilang na ang time namin para matapos ito, kaya tinatanong ko lang, saka nagvo-volunteer ako, na kung mayroon kayong tanong, eh di sasagutin ko po. Para naman mabigyan ng liwanag yung mga katanungan n’yo, at mabigyan na rin natin ng, makarating na rin tayo sa dapat puntahan ng bill na ito, which is yung votation.

Q: Mam do you feel offended sa sinabi po ni Senator Enrile kanina na parang, ‘Who are you to…’

PSC: Ay hindi po, hindi naman tayo sensitive sa mga ganyan. Ako naman, basta nililiwanag ko, I speak for the women, the parents, the couples, and even the teens who demand [RH]. The surveys show that a lot of people want this bill. And even those who do not want it, walang nagiimpose sa yo na gumamit ka ng reproductive health facilities. But the point is, kailangan it’s available. So ang sa akin lang, how can it be that we will use the time irresponsibly. Nakikiusap lang naman ako na sana po, isama sa desisyon na pagtatanong, na bigyan rin naman ng hantungan, ng deadline, naman ito. Hindi ako nagdidikta, hindi ko pinagbabawalan ang kahit sinong magtanong. I just beg and request, with all humility, for some reasonableness, because we owe it to the Filipino people to make a decision on this bill.

Q: Can you clarify po yung amendment about ‘essential medicines’?

PSC: If we look at the existing practice, first of all, there is such a big ignorance on this provision. Kasi para namang ako ho ang nag-introduce nun. This has been a practice for many, many years, na itong Philippine Drug Formulary includes those reproductive health products already. In the drug formulary, nandyan na po iyon. It is not something that I introduced. Hindi ako nag-imbento at hindi rin ito inimbento ng mga foreigner. Nandyan po yan, DOH supports that based on the recommendation of international health organizations, like WHO. So I simply codified it which is basically what the RH bill is all about: Codifying various practices, various policies, various existing laws, in fact. Di ko dine-deny that a lot of these are in place in various forms, that’s precisely why we have to put it all together para may consistency, and continuity beyond this particular term of our President.

What we don’t want to happen is if wala nang supportive na Secretary Ona, wala nang supportive na President PNoy, eh wala nang mga programs.

Q: So under the amendments hindi n’yo sinasabi doon na ‘essential medicines’ ang contraceptives pero nasa Drug Formulary sya?

PSC: I just changed the wording to make it consistent with what the practice is already. I’m not changing anything. If you’re to change that, yun ang masakit, kasi practice na yan eh. Ngayon tinatanggal mo ngayon yung access ng local government to purchase that for, mostly for women who need it, and couples who would be needing it.

Q: Why did you decide to include ‘Responsible Parenthood’ in the title?

PSC: I’ve never had any issue with that and I tried to the extent possible to be a little more consistent with the House version. As you know, wala naman ako kinalaman sa debate sa House, hangga’t pwedeng to be a little bit more consistent, para mabawasan ang trabaho sa bicam. Yun lang naman. And it’s consistent lang naman di ba? Ang sa akin lang, hindi lang sya pwedeng purely ‘Responsible Prenthood,’ because we’re also addressing other issues that are not covered by parenthood.

Q: Mam, overall reaction po ninyo doon sa turno en contra…

PSC: Narinig ko na po kasi lahat iyon during the interpellation, I don’t have any new reactions. Just to summarize, with respect to yung foreign intervention, matagal ko na hong sinagot yon na this bill is the product of my committee with the input of many of the resource persons. Yung mga similarity that we may have with other countries, well you know, we no longer live in an isolated island ano, the reality is, all over the world, and let me tell you that, parliaments all over the world have passed reproductive health bills, including all, if not almost all, pero ang alam ko all, the Catholic countries. Italy has reproductive health law, Spain, Portugal, and Latin American countries, they all have. So what is this issue, why are we so hesitant to provide this measure, that is really needed by our people?

On the issue of population control, again, if you look at the measure, walang intention to control the population on a macro scale. The intention is to provide families with the choice to decide, ‘Gusto mo bang malaki pamilya mo, o maliit pamilya mo?’ Nasa sa kanila yun. If effectively their choice will be to have a bigger family, eh di ang effect pa nga nun, is a bigger population di ba? Although I will admit normally when you give them a choice, as I know, as I work with a lot of NGOS who have access to the grassroots, a lot of them will say, ‘We want a smaller family, so we can feed our children better.’

And one more point on the population issue, to say that Filipino families want more children, simply so that they would – ano ba yung mga terms na ginamit? ‘Ipagpapatuloy…’ o ‘para tutulong…’ Alam mo, kulang na kulang na din po ang lupa, hindi ganoong kadami ang may malalaking lupa na aanihan, na sasakahin, so pag tinatanong ko ang mga kababaihan, karamihan sa kanila, want the chance to plan their family, mas maliit, mas staggered lang ang births, para may time naman din sila maka-recover, o kaya umasenso ng konti, bago magka-anak ulit.

Karamihan ng nakikita kong napakalaking pamilya, cannot feed their children well, and if I can quote…I don’t have her name right now, but I have it in my files…she’s a Catholic Benedictine nun who said, ‘Just because you are anti-abortion doesn’t make you pro-life, if it is ok with you that children do not eat, that they’re wondering in the streets, that they have no education. It makes you pro-birth, without a heart.’ [Note: Sen. Cayetano is referring to Sister Joan D. Chittister, OSB, a Benedictine nun and renowned author and speaker]

So I was so touched when I read that, because how many children are born without the things that they need? They cannot even go to school, they cannot even be the manpower that the anti-RH proponents say they will be for this country because they are malnourished, they are uneducated. Hindi ho kaya ihabol yun, pag teenager na sila at di sila nakakain nang maayos noong bata pa sila, hindi mo na pwedeng ibalik yung nawala sa kanilang kabataan. And that is why we have to equip the parents, to plan. #

Photo: RH bill principal sponsor Sen Pia Cayetano being interviewed during Wednesday’s session.

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