Press Release
April 21, 2008

Transcript of interview with Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Q: Sa civil law, pwede ba siyang [Sen. Madrigal] pamanahan?

SPSC: Syempre, as a lawyer, alam naman natin kung sino ang compulsory heirs. But having said that, it's a personal matter which I won't want anyone meddling in mine, so I won't meddle in others na rin. I'm sure she has her lawyers who are adequately giving her legal advice.

Q: Ma'am congratulations po sa inyong pagkapanalo sa IPU, ano po yung function ninyo ma'am?

SPSC: I'm now the President of the Women Parliamentarians. I was First Vice President from 2006 to 2008. So I'm familiar with the work, and really what it is kasi twice a year lang naman kami nagmimeet kaya hindi malaking bagay iyon in terms of time, but yung pinakamagandang pagkakataon para sa atin as a nation is yung opportunity ko to meet with, to discuss with fellow women parliamentarians and for that matter other members of parliament, babae man o lalaki to help solve some of our current issues. And one of the big issues na naging kasama sa panel of discussion namin is the migration of health workers. As you know, I had hearings on this and yung problema nating iyon, one possible solution is that aware ang receiving countries, ito yung developed countries who receive our nurses, our doctors, aware sila dun sa negative impact ng pag-alis ng mga doctor natin at ng nurses. Kinwento ko sa kanila and there was a report na sa Eastern Visayas there were 17 hospitals na walang doctors, so nagulat sila. So after my presentation, may mga members of parliament who approached me and on the floor, already manifested that they are concerned and would like to know what their country can do about it. So yun pa lang, malaking bagay yun for us and I'm looking forward to further dialogue with this group to really find a solution. I gave certain solutions which include financial support for our educational institutions. Sabi ko, kung kukunin ninyo rin lang ang mga doctor at nurse naming magbuhos na lang kayo ng pondo for our educational facilities kasi kung saan-saan din napupunta ang ODA so let's put it into school, trainings centers for these nurses and doctors so nagiimprove din yung lack ng ating health and human resources. Scholarships for nurses and doctors, exchange program especially. Excited sila doon at syempre excited din ako.

Along that line, yung First Vice President ko is a woman from Indonesia, which is a Moslem country and I've already told her that I would like to look at issues confronting our female migrant workers, a lot of whom are victims of abuse in other countries.

Q: Ilan na po ang women lawmakers na (inaudible) president ng IPU [committee]?

SPSC: There have been over 10, but it's usually a position held by parliaments from developed countries like Canada, sa Europe. I'm the first from Asia.

Q: Kung meron kayong dapat isulong para maprioritize sa Senate investigation, ano po iyon?

SPSC: A number of these are on my plate right now. On Friday, sa Subic, we'll be conducting an inspection and a hearing doon sa loob ng forest reserve dun sa Hanjin construction sa SBMA. That's on my priority list this week. In honor of the celebration of Earth Day, tomorrow, I'll also be filing a resolution and then will be conducting a hearing on specific measures the government is taking and awareness campaigns that are being done so that people know what to do about climate change. People know about it but if somebody took a survey as to what can be done, the only thing people think is "ah patayin ang ilaw, ang gripo." It is very vague to a lot of people so this is like a grassroots campaign that I'd like to see happen and find out what the government is doing about. Thirdly, this is a long term goal but I'm initiating it, this is tied up with my experience with the IPU and my current position, the women parliamentarians of the IPU has taken up the millennium development goals as a priority. May project ang UNICEF which is Countdown to 2015, all of us signatories, including the Philippines committed na ang ating mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, infant and child will go down by 2/3 in 2015. Ang maternal mortality rate natin hindi pa bumababa to the extent that it should be going down, simply because again, our administration has not put in the funds and the commitment necessary to take care of the health of pregnant women. And remember, ang health ng nanay ay tied up sa health ng kanyang sanggol. Ang ating infant mortality rate, particularly yung birth to 30 days, is also not on target and this is because we are not strongly initiating breastfeeding as we should, we do not have prenatal care for women, up to 30+% of pregnant women do not give birth with an attending skilled childbirth attendance. Walang midwife, hilot o kamag-anak ang nandun. 15,000 women die each year from childbirth. And this is something that should be unheard of, if they would only have a midwife attending to them. So this is a priority that we should attend to. In connection with our population growth which is something I would also have a hearing on, we will have families with 8 children without a mother because at the time she has her 8th child, mamatay na siya sa kakapanganak at wala pa siyang natatanggap na prenatal care.

Q: Yung sa food shortage...

SPSC: This issue of infant and maternal mortality rate is tied in with our food shortage problem. Let's just say na ang nanay nakasilang ng malusog na anak, pero pagdating nito from birth to seven years, doon pumapasok ang ating food shortage problem. Sabihin na nating nagpasuso ang isang ina for 2 years, for 2 years may healthy infant, but then on, the child has to rely on our food, and right now we are confronted with a global crisis but it is up to us as a nation to do something about it so that we can do something about it.

Q: Would you like the Senate to conduct an investigation?

SPSC: Definitely, I'm filing a resolution today calling on an investigation to look at the shortage in particular of rice and other basic commodities. And I am quite certain that we will have a hearing on this matter.

Over the break, I was reviewing our Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act. Makikita dito na andun naman ang ating policies to modernize to shift from basic to technologically based faming, to be self-sufficient. What happened to that? Nagugulat na lang tayo na may crisis na pala. And we passed this law ten years ago, and I would like the resolution to include our oversight function to look into what happened to the implementation of this law. In fact it's also tied into my committee on environment because this law also states that watershed should be preserved as long as DENR and Dept of Agriculture declare that it is needed for irrigation purposes.

Q: On JPEPA...

SPSC: I would say that the JPEPA was negotiated very well... by the Japanese. I am very disappointed the way our negotiations have gone. I have gone over the arguments, we have so many hearings. At lahat ng narinig kong arguments eh defensive ang ating (government) position. I have yet to see arguments where I would see na very positive ito. It is the job of each country to negotiate the best position for them and Japan did a good job for their part. On our part, the only way I could support that is to see that we did a good job on our part. I don't blame Japan but they want this agreement, for any developed country would want an agreement where they can be assured of favorable terms. So I want to support an agreement where I know that we are getting favorable terms. If I don't see it I can't support the agreement. But you know me, I follow the process so darating sa floor yun so I would listen and I would see if there has been a change in any of the data that we received in the committee level.

Q: So 50/50?

SPSC: Hindi ako 50/50, I'm really inclined not to support the JPEPA.

Q: So kumbinsido po kayo na hindi kayo boboto for JPEPA?

SPSC: Kumbinsido ako from the information that I have. I feel that part of my job includes listening to the very end. As of now I'm convinced na hindi ko susuportahan ang JPEPA. Pero hanggang sa magkabotohan at may maipakita silang maganda, I have to have an open mind. But as of now, if the voting is today, I'm "No" to JPEPA.

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