Vote on RH bill on Second Reading
By Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
December 17, 2012
“Mr. President I need not explain my vote as I have been defending this measure far too long than most of our colleagues care hear me again. But I will use this opportunity to quickly dispel misinformation and concerns that other sectors have had.”
“Now that the RH bill, if I base it on Second Reading, will pass, I will not gloat because in fact, my job just begins. My intention is to assist and be available to make sure that my dreams and aspirations for Filipino women are fulfilled through this bill: That this is only a measure that will provide women access to the services they have longed for [and] so deserved.
“Mr. President, hindi po magbabago ang buhay ko. My life as a woman, the life of Senator Miriam, the life of Senator Loren, the three of us—this bill is not for us. We fortunately have the financial means, and I think, we have proven that we have the determination and the guts to fight for our right.
“However, this bill is for every woman who does not have that right. Those who wallow in poverty, those who even do not know, as no less than my brother Senator Alan [Cayetano] has said, that may right silang hindi mabugbog. No less than in seminars that Senator Alan has attended, he was surprised to see women just sigh, a sigh of relief na tama pala yung hinala nila na hindi pala sila dapat binubugbog.
“And so with that alone, Mr. President, I know that we are heading in the right place by passing this measure. This is for the women who have not had access; women who have had ten children, two abortions, three miscarriages. And when we ask them, most of them will say they want to be able to plan their families. Mr. President, this will also address abortion. It will not eradicate it. I do not claim that this is the solution to all the problems we have, including abortion. But, with access to family planning supplies, women will not get to the point; more women will not get to the point na mabubuntis sila. Karamihan sa kanila pikit-mata, nakikipagsiping sa kanilang asawa kahit walang proteksyon dahil wala namang pambili.
“And as I said before, I had a child who never left the hospital [Administrator’s note: Gabriel, who died from complications of a rare chromosomal disorder in 2001]. He was nine months old when I buried him. Years later, I decided to help parents with children similarly situated. I paid for them, I took care of all their expenses para mapatahi ang kanilang cleft lip. But I was so surprised to find out that even if bayaran mo iyon, a mother does not even have enough money to take the jeep to get a free surgery for their child. I have to pay for the mother’s jeepney ride, the food of the children she will leave behind. I have to find the way for these women to take care of their children and that is why I realized, Mr. President, that the last on the list of every woman would be her family planning supplies. And that’s why the State has to come in and to provide for these.
“One other point I would like to address also, Mr. President, is the issue on education and livelihood before reproductive health. Make no mistake, mangunguna po ako to fight for a budget for education and livelihood. But let us be real. What job, what education can provide a mother with means for 10 children or 15 children? It is extremely difficult and it will tax all her resources, all her mental health, to be able to provide for a child despite any skills that we will give her. So we have to be realistic. When we talk about budget for education, when we talk about budget for health, we need to equip every parent with the means to support their own children. Otherwise, they become wards of the State.
“And with that, Mr. President, I will end the defense of this bill by thanking everyone who has diligently prepared and made amendments. And to my colleagues who felt strongly against this measure, I hope you can join me in crafting to even strengthen it so that the concerns that you have may be addressed. And at the end of the day, I will do my best to preserve the integrity of the Senate version.
“And I would like to take the opportunity to draw the attention to the women and some of the men on my right hand side [Note: Points out to pro-RH bill personalities and groups in the gallery]. They have been here daily and they personify the women who this bill is for.
“I would also like to thank Secretary [Esperanza] Cabral, Secretary [Alberto] Romualdez, and Secretary [Enrique] Ona and all our resource persons. I honestly could not do this with all of you into my staff. Thank you.
“And my vote is obviously ‘yes.’”
Co-sponsors of the RH bill, Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago congratulate each other as the vote for the measure is taken on the Senate floor (Dec. 17, 2012)
Result of the Senate RH vote on Second and Third Reading:
IN FAVOR: 13
Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon, Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand ‘Bong-Bong’ Marcos Jr., Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, and Ralph Recto.
Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senate Pro Tempore Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, Senators Gringo Honasan, Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, Manuel ‘Manny’ Villar, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., and Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes IV