Press Release
March 11, 2008

Pia regrets lady colleague's hostile reaction to query on status of women-related bills

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today expressed regret over the hostile reaction of Senator Jamby Madrigal to a simple inquiry she made yesterday on the status of women and youth-related bills that have been pending with the Senate Committee on Women, Youth and Family Relations which Madrigal chairs.

"It is very unfortunate because I was simply relaying the concerns of various women's groups and some of my colleagues who have been pushing for the passage of these bills," said the lady senator, author of Senate Bill No.(SBN) 1701 or the "Magna Carta of Women."

"Senator Madrigal is a woman herself and we had expected her to come out strongly supporting our cause and recognize the urgency of seeing a Magna Carta of Women in place. So it's disappointing to see that she still refuses to address the women's issues presented to her."

She noted that Senate President Manny Villar Jr. himself, along with Senators Richard Gordon, Bong Revilla, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda and Edgardo Angara have also filed their respective versions of the measure.

Other measures pending in the committee include the proposed Women Empowerment in Enterprises Act and An Act Establishing a National Museum for Women, both authored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, as well as An Act Strengthening the Rights of Women and the proposal to amend the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of Sen. Villar.

"Just like the women NGOs and my other colleagues, I am also interested to find out what our Chair intends to do since the Senate Committee on Women, Youth and Family Relations has not conducted a single hearing on any of these important measures since the 14th Congress opened in July last year," added Cayetano.

She also cited the 36th session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in August 2006 which noted the Philippines' lack of progress in enacting a comprehensive legal framework on gender equality 25 years after signing the CEDAW agreement.

"We respect the prerogative of the Chair to determine the final outcome of a bill, but to make such determination, a hearing should at least be held. For all of us to have a better understanding of the bills while deliberating on any issue, the best way, as mandated in the Constitution is to hold a hearing.

"But if the Chair thinks this would just amount to 'politicking,' then all the more reason that there should be a hearing for us to be able to hear the stand of women's groups like CEDAW Watch and NCRFW (National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women)."

A workhorse's track record

Cayetano likewise took the opportunity to set the record straight on her track record as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, which Madrigal also criticized and belittled yesterday.

She said senate records will bear out that her committee has held a total of nine hearings on eight measures in the 14th Congress including the proposed National Land Use Act, Environmental Education Act, Land Administration and Reform Act, Sustainable Forest Management Act (including the "log ban" bills), Mining Act proposed amendments and repeal, La Mesa Watershed Reservation Act, Protected Area Bills and Climate Change.

Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, added that her other committee has conducted a total of seven hearings on five measures including Tobacco Regulation, Expanded Breastfeeding Act, Migration of health professionals and proposal to increase the pay of government doctors, Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs) Regulation Act, and the strengthening of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), aside from several hearings jointly conducted on the Cheaper Medicines Bill with the Committee on Trade and Industry chaired by Sen. Mar Roxas.

"Of all these measures, the Senate has so far passed four: the Expanded Breastfeeding Act, Environmental Education Act, Health Workers Day Act, and the Cheaper Medicines Act which is now undergoing bicameral deliberations," she stressed.

The lady senator also said that in the 13th Congress, the committees on health and environment under her watch were able to pass the following national and local laws: Oil Pollution Compensation Act (RA 9483), Anti-Rabies Act (RA 9482), Hospital Detention Law (RA 9439), Biofuels Law (RA 9367), Upgrading Valenzuela General Hospital (RA 9420), Upgrading Jose N. Rodriguez Hospital in Caloocan City (RA 9421), Upgrading Amang Rodriguez Medical Center in Marikina City (RA 9419), Cebu Central Protected Landscape Act (RA 9486) in Cebu province and Mimbilisan Protected Landscape Act (RA 9494) in Misamis Oriental.

The lady senator along with Senate Secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes and leaders of various women's groups led the opening of a photo exhibit yesterday, March10, to mark Women's Month activities at the Senate.

Cayetano is the First Vice President of the Interparliamentary Union's (IPU) Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.

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