Press Release
September 13, 2011

Transcript of interview with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

On the ongoing debates on the RH Bill

I am afraid that the strategy will be for the debates to drag on until it would be time to consider the budget, at which time all bills of course will have to be shelved. If that is the case, we will never finish it by the end of the year. My understanding of the pulse of Congress in both chambers is that no one wants the public to know just exactly where they stand, that most senators prefer to just keep quiet and let the public guess. One of the factors of this reluctance, to be explicit, is that elections are just around the corner, and reelectionists are always afraid of the so-called Catholic vote. Although we know that in the time of former health secretary Juan Flavier he just started distributing condoms for free even without any legal basis. The Catholic Church campaigned against him, but he won anyway (as senator). So apparently there is no such thing as a Catholic vote, yet that is going to influence very heavily the length and the duration of the debates on the RH Bill.

On reports that Vice President Jejomar Binay will run for president on 2016

His chances are excellent. Number one, he is only given specific duties that will allow him sufficient time to campaign all throughout the entire archipelago. Sometimes it is the mistake of an administration if the vice presidential winner did not win together with the president they will assign him some job on the sideline and then gives him all the time and the space to campaign. Secondly, he is known for his "common man's touch". I remember when we were contemporaries in UP he used to huff and puff all the time when he arrives in our student council meetings because he has to run from his job in Makati--he was a working student. He has been working hard so far, so he's going to be a threat in the next presidential elections.

Do you think that this announcement is only to send out feelers and gauge the public's pulse?

Yes, definitely. It is too early, but for a politician there is no such thing as too early. So he will be spending his time delivering speeches to various civic groups and NGOs. He has a head start because he is not tied down to a particularly frenetic office.

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