Sotto says no to tag-team debate

Sotto turns down the tag-team debate challenge with Leloy Claudio and Miguel Syjuco

Ayee Macaraig
Published 8:04 PM, September 05, 2012
Updated 11:19 PM, November 11, 2012

'THAT GOOD.' Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III says if Claudio and Syjuco claim to be better than Senators Cayetano and Santiago, they should be elected to the Senate. Photo by Hoang Vu

'THAT GOOD.' Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III says if Claudio and Syjuco claim to be better than Senators Cayetano and Santiago, they should be elected to the Senate. Photo by Hoang Vu

MANILA, Philippines – For the second time, no.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III rejected a new challenge for a debate on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. A staunch RH bill critic, Sotto turned down the open invitation of academic Leloy Claudio and writer Miguel Syjuco.

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, September 5, Sotto said the invitation sends a negative message to RH bill sponsors Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor Santiago.

“I think it’s an insult to Senator Pia and Senator Miriam. Ongoing ang debate namin sa kanila (our debate with them is ongoing). That means they’re not satisfied with Senator Pia and Miriam. They probably think they’re better than the two,” Sotto said.

Sotto also took a swipe at Claudio and Syjuco.

Hindi maganda iyon. (That’s not good) It has very bad implications on the sponsors of the measure. Siguro (maybe) they’re that good. They should be elected to the Senate,” he said.

Claudio and Syjuco wrote an open letter to Sotto inviting him to debate on the RH bill, along with a Catholic bishop of his choice. Claudio was an award-winning student debater of the Ateneo while Syjuco is an acclaimed novelist.

The invitation was issued following the first two parts of Sotto’s "turno en contra" speeches against the RH bill and allegations of plagiarism against the senator.

The two RH supporters said it is important to hold a debate outside the Senate floor so Sotto can no longer claim parliamentary immunity.

Last year, Sotto also rejected a similar invitation from Claudio on the same grounds. Claudio said Cayetano and Santiago told him they were not offended by the challenge.

NOT HAPPENING. Sotto rejects the debate challenge from Claudio and Syjuco. Image posted on the Pro RH Bill Facebook page

NOT HAPPENING. Sotto rejects the debate challenge from Claudio and Syjuco. Image posted on the Pro RH Bill Facebook page

‘Sotto’s chance to explain’

Syjuco wrote in a Rappler Thought Leaders Piece, “Our offer is sincere. The senator says his points have not been responded to; we’d like to remedy that."

“The senator refuses to reply to points raised by the media; this is his chance to explain. (For example, what of the other two American writers who’ve complained about his plagiarism?) And if the senator thinks the issues bear more discussion before allowing voting, why not agree to this conversation? I’ll even bring the beer,” said Syjuco.

Sotto has finished delivering a 4-part speech against the RH bill that spanned a period of about a month. Aside from the anti-RH speeches, the senator also made a speech last week defending himself from allegations of plagiarism. – Rappler.com

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