Press Release
September 16, 2011

Transcript of interview with Sen. Pia S. Cayetano regarding the RH Bill

Pia to fellow legislators: 'Be a man, be a woman and vote for or against the RH Bill'

Transcript of interview with Sen. Pia S. Cayetano

RH as HR: A Forum on Senate Bill No.2865

Malcolm Theater, UP College of Law, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Q: Mam pakipaliwanag po why did you and Sen. Miriam choose the University of the Philippines as venue to talk about the RH Bill?

SPSC: Well, siguro gusto namin ang kaharap namin mga edukado at mga 'mature' na tao kaya namin pinili ang University of the Philippines (laughs). Pero important for us to emphasize that ang nandito po are students from many colleges and universities within Metro Manila. So this was a very good gathering of enlightened and aware and concerned citizens of the Philippines.

Q: Mam I understand nagkakaroon ng problema doon sa interpellation, how optimistic are you na maipapasa ito ng Senado?

Interpellation and debates are normal processes naman in the Senate so wala naman hong problema iyon pero siguro ang masasabi ko naman it's a little bit frustrating because katulad nga ng binaggit ni Sen. Miriam, kung ang arguments lang naman na ilalabas nila are arguments such as, 'Why don't you focus on other problems in this country or other health issues'?' Or that 'this is a population control method' that is being pushed by the US based on a 1970's know, it distracts us from the real issue. The real issue is that women, families do not have any information to control and to decide for themselves yung welfare ng family nila. It is very clear under our Constitution that the right to life should be protected, and hangga't women do not have the ability to protect their unborn or even to protect themselves from being pregnant again just after they give birth, we are denying these women of vital information, for what reason? Simply because we expect women to live in the past? Because we want to be able to say, 'Wala tayong population control policy'? No! Women and families should have the right to decide how they will plan their families, because it is the obligation of every parent to give their children a better future, to provide food on the table, to provide clothing, to provide shelter. How can you do that if you have 10 children? Now if you have the means then well and good, that is your priority, no one is being forced, but to deprive a family, a woman, of this information. When was the last time you heard of people being crucified because they have information? That is what's happening now. We do not want people to have access to information and services. They go together. The Constitution provides that if the poor cannot afford, we must provide. That is all we're asking, na malagyan din ng budget itong information and programs so that the poor may access it.

Q: Sen. Miriam proposed a public debate. You and her on one team and who would you want to challenge on the other team in the Senate?

Well, actually ang purpose lang naman dun, according to Sen. Miriam, is that we have an intelligent debate. And syempre po, si Sen. Miriam and I are from UP, specifically from the UP College of Law. It's sort of an internal thing between us na dapat naman ang kadebate naman namin is taga-UP College of Law. But...

Q: So hindi pwede sina Sen...

SPSC: Well, bahala na sila mag-interpret doon. Ang purpose lang naman ni Sen Miriam was to emphasize the fact na ang gusto naming ka-debate is at the level that is worth the time of the people, na para ma-educate naman sila on the real issues. What is the purpose of the RH Bill, at hindi nadadala po sa ibang issues na hindi mahalaga. Yun naman yung point nya. (laughs)

Q: With the rate how things are going, possible ba na maipasa ang RH Bill this year?

SPSC: Well that is why we had this forum. Because we feel that it is time for the people to start pressuring their legislators, their duly-elected legislators, to make a decision on how they feel about the RH Bill di ba? Sen. Miriam and I are ready to debate it every single day, and this is on the Senate floor which is where it matters in terms of the votes. So that people will be educated. But we are calling upon everyone to demand their legislators to make a decision and then vote on this bill. Wag naman itong mabasura like in the past Congresses, na after all these hours that we put in, maisasantabi, because that would be a victory for the other side who are basically saying na pabayaan na natin na mamatay yung onseng [11] kababaihan araw-araw. It's like saying that as we speak every day, we don't care that these women are dying. That's what it is. And if that's what it is, then you might as well put on record that you are voting for the death of these women. And let's not take the approach that, 'Let's just let the bill die on its own.' No! Be a man, be a woman and make the decision and vote for or against the RH bill.

Q: Mam ano po yung reading nyo sa mga kasamahan ninyo?

SPSC: Well I still have high hopes for the men in the Senate, I'd like to think that they are enlightened, and I'd like to think that they are listening to the debates and can see through what is important. And I'd like to think that the men that we put into office can see that women's lives are important because otherwise, it redounds simply as discrimination against women. And it simply brings us back to the fact that women are not important, that we can just say, 'Let's let them die!'

Q: Do you think you can get to the point where you can vote on it at the end of the year?

SPSC: I'm hoping. I'm a little bit concerned because it will take some time but I'm hoping that the other senators who have manifested concern, maybe they would already be enlightened by the debates and would no longer have to intepellate.

Q: How many senators do you two need to still win over?

SPSC: Well we need thirteen votes. Right now we easily see five (5) who are very committed, and from the last count I had, we had more than another eight (8) of them that I know were supportive but had concerns. So I'm hoping that the concerns had been addressed during the debates.

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