Press Release
June 22, 2012

Miriam: Re-electionists should pass RH bill

With the period of interpellations closed, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago urged re-electionist senators to vote in favor of Senate Bill No. 2865, also known as the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

The senator previously said that "most senators prefer to just keep quiet and let the public guess what their stand is on the RH bill, because elections are just around the corner." According to Santiago, re-electionists are worried about the Catholic vote since the Catholic Church is against the RH bill.

"Re-electionists 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 as senator anyway. So apparently there is no such thing as a Catholic vote," the senator said.

Senator Santiago, one of the co-sponsors of the controversial measure, has persistently defended the bill during the period of interpellations. Interpellations on the RH bill lasted for almost a year, coinciding with the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"I am positive that after the impeachment trial, some senators have softened their stand against the RH bill, and will hopefully vote in favor of passing the bill. I am also confident that there will be no serious challenges to the bill during the period of amendments. However, some senators may want to introduce amendments regarding government subsidy on dispensing medication, and the phraseology concerning the inclusion of contraceptive medication in the so-called national formulary," she said.

Santiago emphasized that re-electionists should focus on the needs of the people. She said there is an urgency to pass the bill because the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the Philippines has been almost unchanged since 1990, based on data from the National Statistics Office.

"Government efforts to reduce our maternal mortality rate has not been effective. The three core interventions to reduce MMR -- Family Planning, attendance of pregnancy and delivery by skilled professionals, and access to Emergency Obstetric Care -- are core services not available in many LGUs," the senator said.

The senator clarified that she is willing to answer questions from her colleagues in the Senate during the period of amendments, if there are still any left.

"I have very high hopes that we can have the RH bill passed this August, or before the end of the year, at the latest," Santiago said.

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