Press Release
October 13, 2011

Pia on RH bill: 'With no other interpellators left,
time to move on to period of amendments'

Reproductive Health (RH) bill principal sponsor Senator Pia S. Cayetano said the time has come for senators to close the period of interpellations and proceed to the period of amendments when the Upper Chamber resumes consideration of Senate Bill No.2865.

"In the last three months, the RH bill sponsors have been able to clarify various points that were raised against the bill, including the myths and misconceptions being spread by some critics," said Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

"If in fact the pace of debates is 'slow' as the Majority Leader describes it, this is so only because we, the sponsors [Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and herself], have been patiently accommodating the interpellations of Senator Sotto and the Senate President."

"The Senate records will bear out that they are the only ones who keep taking the floor and we have accommodated them every single time," she noted.

Cayetano said the RH sponsors always made it a point to come to the session hall prepared to defend the measure--only to be told on the floor that none of the interpellators were ready.

"In fact, in the last three session days before the Senate went on break [October 10, 11 and 12], the RH bill wasn't event tackled because none of the interpellators, including Sens. Sotto and Enrile, took the floor despite our being ready."

"And since there are no other interpellators left, it only means it's time to close the period of interpellations and proceed to the period of amendments," she suggested.

The lady senator also took exception to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's opinion that the RH bill is a population control measure.

"With respect to the Senate President's insistence that the RH bill only seeks to control the population, the debate transcripts will prove that this matter has been adequately clarified and refuted on the floor already."

"It is very clear that the bill does not seek to impose a population growth rate, a fertility rate, nor an ideal family size on anybody, rich or poor."

"What the bill does seek is to empower couples to make informed choices in planning the size of their family and spacing of their children. Let us not confuse a couple's right to plan their family with state-imposed population control. They are clearly not the same thing," she clarified.

"We, the sponsors, have stated repeatedly that we would be happy to accept amendments from Sen. Enrile that would help refine the bill's language and remove whatever doubts he may still have on the bill's objectives."

"Unfortunately, we can only start accepting amendments if and when we close the period of interpellations and proceed to the period of amendment. I believe that time has come," she concluded.

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