Delays in Reproductive Health bill hit

News Release
28 November 2011

Transcript of ambush interview with Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
Senate plenary, before the start of Monday’s session
Topic: Update on RH Bill

Q: Is there a deliberate effort to delay the RH Bill?
SPSC: Of course, I don’t think anyone in the Senate will admit that they’re delaying it. Because on any issue, you can go to the archives of the National Library, the US Congress, every bookstore in the world, and ask a question: ‘Do you believe in this opinion?’ We can ask that until we all have no more black hair on our scalp. But the [question] is: Have we addressed the major concerns? And my answer is ‘yes, we have.’ If there were any other major concerns, let me ask you this: Would we not have had an RH debate the week before the session went on break? Would we not have people reserving, lining up to interpellate now? There is none, because wala na silang matanong. Ngayon kung sasabihin nila,’Ay hindi, marami pa,’ eh bakit hindi n’yo tinatanong? Like I said, kung uungkatin nila at maghahanap sila nitong libro, ko-quote-an nila ako, gusto nila akong basahan ng libro, syempre meron. Pwede nga nilang basahin yung Rights of the Child, Magna Carta, pwede naman nilang basahin lahat yun on session and then ask me just one question. They can do that but do we call that delaying?

Q: So may effort ba, kasi ang sabi ni Sen. Miriam, magpa-file kayo ng motion para mag-period of amendments na?
SPSC: Definitely we will already move to close the period of interpellations and start the period of amendments. Siguro meron pa ngang may questions dyan. Pero give us a break, tanungin nyo na. If there are like two or three other colleagues who, actually, are no longer on the list, because those on the list have already asked their questions–Senator Osmena, Senator Recto–and they both told me na wala na silang tanong. So the ones who have repeated questions are the Senate President and the Majority Floor Leader.

They know very well, I don’t have to remind them naman that we’re always ready to answer the questions. Girl Scout naman ako, lagi akong handa. O, nag-adjourn at nag-adjourn na noon ang session pero that whole week, wala. And then even ngayon, wala rin. Alam naman nilang ready kami.

Q: Kailan kayo magmo-move sa plenary…
SPSC: Ako I’m ready to do it. But out of deference to my co-sponsor [Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago], I’ll just tell her, we’ll both be present when we do it. Today or tomorrow, I’m ready. I mean, nasaan na yung mag-iinterpellate? We’ll see, I might even say something later.

[Inaudible]
SPSC: [If someone would complain] no, you’re railroading us, you’re railroading the provision, you’re railroading the procedure, you’re preventing us from expressing our concerns… no, that would be a total falsehood, because we have been ready and available for the longest time. So those who have serious concerns, I think how many months, I sponsored it before we went on break, that was June, then July, kung may serious objections ka, di siguro naman napag-aralan mo na yan di ba. Railroading is if it’s like I sponsored it today and then tomorrow, ang sasabihin ko, ‘o vote na, [kahit] ayaw n’yo.’ Yun ang railroading. For something as complicated as this, we gave more than two weeks, we gave more than one month, we gave more than two months, we are on our, what? Fourth month? That’s enough time for intelligent people to study the bill.

Q: Pero meron na ba kayong headcount kung ano yung chance n’yo sa botohan?
SPSC: I’m not really into that, yung bilangan. But of course, I do have an idea who are our staunch supporters of the RH Bill. And then I also know those who are ‘under pressure.’ I know those, there are a handful of them who are under pressure. And really, for the life of me, hindi sila anti-RH dati, and then ngayon, meron silang mga concerns. But I will be appealing to them to really decide if their concerns are serious concerns so that they are really willing to put this measure at risk, because of other ‘pressures.’ That is still their choice, but I will still be asking them, because of those pressures which I’m not saying are not valid, but, are you sure you want to do that and jeopardize the outcome of this bill? Having said that, there’s just a few of them. So I still hope that I will be able to appeal to their generous side. Of course I’m just joking, I’m referring to the merits of the bill [that these would convince them].

Q: Ilan po yung under pressure (undecided)?
SPSC: Less than a handful.

Q: Pero minsan po yung handful, game-changing po yung numbers nila ‘di ba?
SPSC: I’m still fairly confident. I’m not like the other side, sasabihin, ‘ay talo na yan!’ I’m not like that. I will respect every vote of my colleagues. But my only appeal is that they have thought long and hard about the impact of the passage of this measure, and the non-passage. If they can look at me in the face and tell me, ‘I believe there’s another solution,’ then I will respect their will. Pero ayoko nung mga, ‘Di papasa yan! Basura na yan!’ I will not say that in the same way that I will not say, ‘Hindi akin lahat yang botong yan.’ No, di ako magyayabang, because I will trust that they will think about this before they make a decision.

Q: So ready na kayong tanggapin ano man ang maging judgment dito?
SPSC: Of course. But when I say handa akong tanggapin hindi ibig sabihin that I’m not working hard enough to get it passed. Like for example sa boxing, sasabihing ‘tapos na ang laban, inaantay mo na lang ang score.’ Wala naman ako doon. Lumalaban naman ako. Manununtok pa ko. Nag-i-score pa ko. Para pagdating doon sa botohan medyo unanimous [ang decision].

Q: [Inaudible, your message sa nag-o-oppose…]
SPSC: That’s their prerogative. Wag lang nilang i-delay, ask the question, and I will give them all the time. Kahit pa hanggang this week. But of course I still need to consult with Sen Miriam.

Q: Paano next year na raw?
SPSC: Bakit, ang aga naman naming mag-Pasko? I will put to task those who don’t want to take it up. Bakit namamasko na ba tayo? Ang mga tao nagtatrabaho pa eh, so dapat nagtatrabaho din kami di ba. Ngayon wala na nga sya [RH Bill] sa agenda. Bakit, andali-dali lang naman i-take up nyan eh. #

In photo: Sen. Pia Cayetano discusses a point with Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on the sidelines of Wednesday’s session after the two delivered their respective manifestations on the status of the RH bill in plenary.

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