Press Release
September 13, 2011

It's simply due diligence, not character assassination,
on RH supporters--Sotto

What is character assassination to the reckless is due diligence to the prudent.

That's how Senator Vicente Sotto III described his expose on the links of certain non-government organizations to international funders that support abortion as a family planning method.

Reacting to Senator Pia Cayetano's assertion that he has resorted to "character assassination by association" to discredit NGOs lobbying for the Reproductive Health Bill, Sotto said he was merely pointing out that their main funder is pushing abortion, which is illegal in the Philippines.

He also advised his colleague to stop acting as counsel for these well-heeled NGOs and limit the debates on sound arguments on the Senate floor.

"Attributing malice where there is none does not contribute to an enlightened debate. If the sponsors of the RH Bill is so convinced with their arguments on the RH, there is no need for them to run to their rescue. These are not helpless NGOs," Sotto added.

Sotto said the conduct of due diligence on these pro-RH NGOs is necessary to determine the context of their agenda and find out on what perspective they are coming from.

"The public has the right to know what kind of NGOs is behind the RH bill. They need to know all facts, for them to have enlightened assessment on this particular measure, which will cost taxpayer's money," he said.

"It is not character assassination as the sponsor of the bill would like to think it is. It is character build-up, a background check on the NGOs supporting the bill and why they are so aggressive to have it passed," he added.

Sotto said he should not be faulted for doing his assignment-- which any prudent lawmaker should make--for a contentious, if not highly divisive, bill like the RH.

"I wonder if she would like to associate herself with NGOs that support or perpetuate, for instance, gender discrimination, child labor or terrorism," he stressed.

The lawmaker said exposing the links of the NGOs, revealing the glue that binds these to international funders that conduct abortion in countries where it is legal, is part of rigorous and clinical research to fully understand the implications and complications of the RH bill.

"We try to peel away the layers, slowly but surely, backed up by facts and factual deductions," he added.

Cayetano has taken the cudgel for the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines which has been receiving funding from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a global network that campaigns for sexual and reproductive health rights.

IPPF has gone on record that it performs abortions, as a family planning methodology, in countries where it is legal.

In defending FPOP, Cayetano said that while the local NGO has "many common objectives with these (international) organizations, including access to contraceptives and access to family planning," abortion is not one of them since it is illegal in the Philippines.

"They cannot and they do not support this. This is my understanding. I will not belabor the point because it is what it is," she added.

Sotto said Cayetano need not take the heat from the FPOP, since the well-funded NGO could very well defend itself.

On the contrary, the lawmaker said he was a victim of character assassination for his opposition on the RH.

He asserted that the FPOP has yet to open its records to the public---how much funding it has received through the years, how successful were its family planning programs, how much of its fund went to abortion operations and how many abortions it had assisted if there are any.

The lawmaker said part of due diligence is requiring transparency and accountability from these NGOs.

Sotto said it is now imperative for FPOP to state for the record whether it had assisted, performed or conducted abortions, following the assertion of Cayetano that "any Filipino and organization who works within the jurisdiction of the Philippines, cannot implement any programs on abortion."

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