Sotto on RH bill: 'I want this out of my hair'

Sotto denies delaying voting on the RH bill, saying he also wants it 'out of my hair'

Ayee Macaraig
Published 5:04 PM, September 03, 2012
Updated 11:22 PM, November 11, 2012

NO DELAY. Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III denies that he and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are delaying voting on the RH bill. File photo from Senate website

NO DELAY. Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III denies that he and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are delaying voting on the RH bill. File photo from Senate website

MANILA, Philippines – Delaying tactics? Of course not.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III denied claims that the Senate is resorting to delaying tactics in the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

In an interview with reporters on Monday, September 3, Sotto responded to the statement of RH bill co-sponsor Sen Pia Cayetano that the chamber’s leadership is delaying voting on the bill.

Cayetano’s statement was made in reaction to a radio interview on Sunday of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile where he said that debates and amendments may extend the voting to pass or reject the bill to June 2013. Enrile said senators may have to vote each time they cannot agree on a single amendment.

“Of course not, it has always been their claim,” Sotto said. “If delaying tactics are going to be used then they will not have it (the bill) on the floor, as simple as that.”

Enrile agreed, "How can there be delaying tactics when we are working in accordance with the rules? She (Cayetano) can make the proper motion if she really wants to hasten it. Then, we will submit it to a vote."

Sotto said if it were up to him, the Senate will vote on the bill now. The staunch RH critic, however, said the measure will have to go through the period of amendments.

Kung ako mismo ang tatanungin, I want this out of my hair. I want this out of the Senate hall, kung pwede lang ngang pagbotohan ngayong araw na ito pagbotohan na natin eh, either reject it, dispose [of] it, or approve it in whatever form. Mas gusto ko iyon kaso there are processes to follow,” Sotto said. (If you ask me, I want this out of my hair. I want this out of the Senate hall, if possible let’s vote on it today whether we reject it, dispose of it, approve it in whatever form. I prefer that but there are processes to follow.)

Sotto said part of the process is allowing critics like himself to raise their opposition to the bill. The senator will deliver on Wednesday, September 5, the third part of his “turno en contra” speech against the RH bill.

“Those opposing, we have the right to ask questions. I’ve only delivered half of my explanation why I’m opposing the bill. There’s still the other half,” Sotto said in Filipino.

Why not scrutinize RH?

The Majority Leader said his 3-part speech cannot be classified as a delaying tactic. Sotto delivered the first part of his speech on August 13 and the second part on August 15. Last week, he delivered a speech defending himself from allegations of plagiarism.

“If regular bills or even local bills are subjected to scrutiny, why not a very controversial bill that seeks to divide the country and it is dividing the country right now. Why do we need to approve that without discussing it thoroughly here?”

Sotto said it will depend on the period of amendments whether or not the vote on the RH bill will be extended to June 2013.

“In the period of amendment, the picture will be clearer on how it will come out, after the committee amendment because I probably think there are some committee amendments but when it comes to [the] individual amendment period, that’s where the problem [lies].”

The RH bill is in the period of amendments in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. At this time, committee and senators’ individual amendments will be introduced.

Cayetano and co-sponsor Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago have said that they want the RH bill to be passed by August or the end of the year at the latest.

RH proponents have said that it is now “crunch time” for the bill because lawmakers will soon be busy with the budget and preparing for the 2013 elections.

Enrile and Sotto, however, said many provisions of the bill will have to be amended such as the one classifying contraceptives as essential medicines. Another contentious provision concerns providing care to women with post-abortion complications. – Rappler.com

For more on the RH bill and the Senate, read: