On ‘when does life begin’: We won that vote

News Release
November 20, 2012

Transcript of interview of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
On the RH bill amendments
Senate session hall

SPSC: We spent almost three hours on it [RH BILL], so that’s good. If I had it my way, I would want it every day, but as I’ve always said and I’ve always shown, reasonable naman akong tao. Even before sin tax, naka-schedule na ang national budget, and when sin tax came around — although in my personal view it is as important as reproductive health — nakisama naman ako na yun yung wish ng majority and yun yung wish ng Presidente. Pero umasa din naman ako that they will also ensure enough time will be spent on RH.

Q: Kailan po ulit maipapasok yung RH?

SPSC: Expected naman talaga, after the budget na, like any other bill. That’s why if you will recall, in the last few days, I was trying to push it kahit at the end of session. Kasi talagang pag budget [na ang discussion], wala ka nang magagawa. Ganun talaga yun. Makiusap man ako, alam ko naman that the leadership doesn’t love the bill, so why waste my energy?

Q: Ano po ang nakita n’yo sa botohan para sa individual amendments? Indicative na ba yun ng magiging approval or disapproval ng bill?

SPSC: It’s clear naman — but again I don’t want to put words or votes in the mouth of my colleagues — I think consistently naman, the support for RH is there, except of course that everyone has different opinions on a few issues. Pero andun din naman yung clearly pro- and clearly anti-RH and those who choose the issues, which is their right.

In fact, I have talked to some and we will continue to talk to the others kasi it’s also indicative to me na kung may problema naman kayo on certain provisions, sana alam ko rin, so I can improve it. Kasi I always want to try to improve the measure, like on the local government, and the health providers issue, I feel that there’s just a misunderstanding on the impact of that measure. And I felt really bad that we need to distinguish [between public and private health care institutions], kasi ang example na binibigay ko: ‘You mean to say that, effectively, you’re going to allow them to discriminate against women in private hospitals?’ No. Precisely that’s why the State must come in and regulate certain sectors. Kaya nga nagbigay ako ng example sa transportation sector, even in the electric power sector, di ba a lot of services are allowed to be conducted by private entities but it doesn’t mean that the State doesn’t regulate it, di ba? So yun yung gusto ko ma-highlight. But then we also have to remember na pag mahaba na rin yung oras, minsan siguro, hindi na rin natin nabibigyan ng sapat na atensyon pa, or they cannot see the fine line, and so that’s what I’m disappointed in. But I am hoping that there are other provisions on those issues, and I’m hoping na ma-emphasize yun.

Also I want to be sure that we are not misled. I don’t like it when people say they are ‘pro-women’ when they act against provisions that are protecting women. Just state that you don’t like it; you cannot say that you are ‘pro-women,’ because you’re not.

Q: Based dun sa vote sa individual amendments ni JPE, nakita na ba kung sino yung likely to vote in favor and against the entire bill?

SPSC: Medyo. If you look at the crux of the issue which was on ‘when does life begin’? We won that vote. That was an important one.

And I hope that it was also obvious na hangga’t kaya ko naman pagbigyan, both the two sponsors, ibinibigay ko naman di ba? I have no problem with natural family planning. I have no problem with the insertion of ‘pro-life’ provisions because we are all pro-life here. But I’m trying to help them understand that ‘pro-life’ includes protecting the life of the mother and protecting the child who is born into a world where they can be cared for.

Q: Nagulat po ba kayo noong tumayo si JPE [to make a privilege speech and push for the introduction of his amendments on the RH bill]?

SPSC: Well I had a privilege speech ready [on the UNFPA’s World Population Report 2012], so I wasn’t able to deliver my speech. Nagulat ako and I didn’t want Senator Drilon to think that I was backing off on my commitment to him na mauna din naman ang sin tax. Kaya lang, nandyan na eh, it was being handed to me on a silver platter na mag-RH na tayo. Alangan naman na ako pa ang humindi? And then nagulat ako overwhelming [ang boto]. Ano yun, 11-3 yung gustong mag-RH? So sige. Handa rin naman ako. No problem. #

PHOTO: Senators voting on RH bill amendments during Monday’s session

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