Press Release
December 5, 2012

Cayetano defends phrase "safe and satisfying sex" as mentioned in RH Bill
"We weren't elected to be comfortable. We were elected to do the right thing here."


* During the plenary debates in the Senate Session Hall last Dec 4 2012, an amendment introduced by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile sought to removing the phrase "safe and satisfying sex" from the definition of Reproductive Health as stated in the bill.
* The entire line that Enrile wanted to remove was, "This (RH) implies that people are able to have a safe and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide, if, when and how often to do so."
          *The Senate voted 6-11 to reject Enrile's proposed amendment to remove the phrase.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said he is in favor of retaining the phrase and gave this explanation during the plenary debates:

"Hindi lang ba natin gustong ilagay ang linyang ito dahil baka tayo ay pagkamalan na malaswa? Or there is something inherently wrong with the phrase "safe and satisfying love life and sex life"?

I do believe that many here are also arguing from religious points of view. The bible does say that "You shouldn't deny your body to the other unless you agree." Sex life is part of a relationship. Maraming nasisira o nabubuo na relasyon dahil sa sex life pwera pa yung nangangaliwa.

In the past, the sex life of the husband and wife is affected due to the man's way of thinking. For example, men think that the woman cannot say no. The man believes that even if the woman is pregnant, just gave birth or has her menstruation, she can be told to bed the man.

For me, the biblical phrase does not mean that the man can demand sex anytime he wants. There still has to be a mutual agreement.

My first point is "Why don't we want to use this phrase? Why are we uncomfortable to use it?" If we all desire a safe and fulfilling sex life is it lewd per se? If it is lewd per se then maybe we can find a language that means the same thing but does not engender so much discomfort.

I remember in Grade 5 when my Catholic school - La Salle - had sex education everyone was laughing when the word "siping" was used. Although there are other more lewd terms that maybe used to refer to sex, the word "siping" is accepted in the Filipino language because it sounds scientific. It doesn't sound lewd.

So if we're saying that this phrase sounds lewd then let's find another phrase that means the same thing that isn't. But if we're just saying that we're uncomfortable because we're more conservative, do we sacrifice the substance of the paragraph just to cater to our comfort?

Secondly, I'd just like to clarify that I am against any type of abortion as found in the Constitution. This bill is not about abortion.

I do believe that the use of contraceptives is at the heart of this provision. Our religious belief is personal. We have to find a law that caters to the common good. For example, someone told me "Do you know that that bill is against God?" I asked him in return, "Why are our Muslim brothers permitted to wed more than once? For Christians this is against God. But for Muslims, this is permitted."

So it's not true that the law does not respect religion. While some religions do not allow for the use of contraceptives, some do. So why don't we have a law that allows that? Is this the same argument we use in the debate on why our Muslim brothers are allowed to take more than one wife.

Why do I say this in relation to this phrase? What if you live in a city where you are so poor that if your husband thinks that he can have sex with you anytime he wants and you do not want to become pregnant but the city mayor will not give you contraceptives?

That's the point of the phrase "a safe and satisfying sex life". If you don't put that in the law and make it clear to the people that they have that right, many of our men will continue to think that their wives do not have the right to refuse. Many of our men will still think that they can rape their wife. O pwedeng baliktad din para sa mga ander da saya. Pwede ring pilitin ng babae ang lalaking ayaw.

I'll go back to my main point. If we're uncomfortable with the language then maybe we can craft a replacement word. But if we're saying that it's immoral per se then that should be made clear. So I am in favor of having it there.

If we have a better word, why not? But if we remove it because we're uncomfortable, we weren't elected to be comfortable. We were elected to do the right thing.

Thank you.

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