Press Release
September 22, 2011

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Kapihan sa Senado Transcipt 4

Re: Stand on RH Bill

Q: What's your stand on the RH Bill?

As far as the debates are concerned, alam kong napapahaba but it's a very emotional and contentious bill. So kung ang mga anti-riot police ay mayroong maximum tolerance, I think kami may maximum tolerance din and let's let all of the issues come out.

As far as I'm concerned, I signed the committee report with reservations. I have some questions and I just want to make sure that everyone under the bill will be able to exercise his religious beliefs and walang matatapakan ang religious beliefs.

'The Need for a Conscientious Objection Clause'

For example, 'yung tinatawag na Conscientious objection na gusto ko, halimbawa, ang DepEd, kapag sinabi ko ng magulang na kami ang magtuturo ng sex education sa anak namin, then they will be excused from that class. Pero saan sila ilalagay during that time?

I have a personal experience diyan, hindi sa sex education, pero sa ganyan when I was in La Salle. In La Salle, kapag hindi ka katoliko, pwede kang hindi mag-attend ng first Friday mass. Pero mayroon silang activity para sa hindi mag-aattend. So rather than just assuring the public na kapag gusto mo, kayo ang magturo, if you don't trust the teacher, or you think na masyadong bata ang grade five. So that should be the option of the parents.

There are just some points that I would like to take up.

I also signed the resolution or the letter to the senate of the president, asking for the debates to be held twice a week. Para matagal man, tatlong araw lang naman tayo may session. I did sign those two documents. I am for the bill to be finally voted on, eventually or soon.

Q: Makakalaban mo ba ang sister mo dito?

It's more of that I'd like to see the Conscientious objection that is already put in the bill. Nag-usap na kami pero hindi sa floor. But I'd like to see a framework of how it's done para later on, walang, halimbawa, nasa health center na doctor na pinipilit na magbigay ng contraceptive o magpa-ligate tapos sasabihin niya sa religion niya, hindi pwede 'yon.

I think there's no bill in the country that can be implemented well without the support of the Catholic Church, especially in a country where the big majority is catholic.

I think, rather than working against them, it's really working with them. But like I said, many want to work with them but that's an emotional issue. I'm trying to just take a stand of being unemotional about it and my own personal, political, and religious belief doesn't matter here. What matters is that we're able to come out with a bill that will protect women, will be 100% against abortion, but will allow people to exercise their religion.

For example, we don't allow two wives under the catholic or Christian church. Pero mayroon tayong Muslim code of personal laws. Under this, pwedeng apat ang asawa ng mga kapatid nating Muslim. Bakit hindi natin pinigilan na magkaroon ng ganoong batas? Pero marami ang hindi naniniwala na pwede magkaroon ng apat na asawa. Now, it's your freedom. If you believe in the Islam faith, then you can practice that under that law. But if you believe in the catholic or Christian faith, you will have to follow our own family code.

That's my input on the RH Bill. I'd like to put some input that there be a legal framework for Conscientious objection para doon sa mga reklamo ng ibang religios groups, ma-address.

Q: They say that re-electionists are scared of making a stand on this. True?

I would say that they're legitimate fears by some. Because nagiging emotional issue at lumalabas na talaga kung sino ang pro at con. At natural naman 'yon. Sa US bases, ganoon din, hindi ba? Noong pinasa dito, there were some who were saying that they will not vote for those who were for it, or against it, etc.

Governance is not just about the will of the majority, but also what's good for everyone. So that's the question palagi sa leadership. Do you follow what groups would tell you, or do you do what the right thing is when there's conflict?

But I think we're a mature society. For example, regardless of the personal stand of Sen. Pia, I'm very close to the catholic church and to our bishop and our parish priest, and we don't agree on some things, but we continue to support each other in our programs.

The threat is more political than real. Dahil nagta-tug of war whether to pass it or not. Siyempre, sa politiko, palaging nariyan ang threat na kapag pinasa mo 'yan or not, hindi ka namin susuportahan.

I signed both documents. I've exposed myself to criticisms, but what I'm saying is that there are some concerns. Some documents are consistent. I signed the committee report and then I signed the letter asking the senate president to have the bill discussed twice a week.

Q: Sen. Pia and you have conflicting views?

Sen. Pia and I never agreed to agree on everything. There are really some issues where we have different stands.

Q: May mga nag-lobby na ba sayo on RH?

Number one, of course, is my sister. Hindi na kailangan i-lobby, sa tingin na lang niya sa akin. Of course, it's basically women's groups and NGOs.

Halimbawa, napanood kon sa TV when I was in Bohol, na sinasabi kasama sa RH ang abortion. Tapos pinapakita si Hilary Clinton na sinasabing sa US, kasama. Pero iba ang RH program sa US sa RH Bill natin.

I don't deny that there are think tanks of other governments that part of their strategic planning is population control, but that doesn't really matter to us. Hindi 'yon ang question sa atin. ANg question sa atin, is RH good for us or not? Is it good for women or not?

'There are still a lot of issues to be discussed'

Halimbawa, 'yung sinasabing kaya pinu-push ito dahil pinu-push ang contraceptives. The government can buy the contraceptives, even without the RH Bill. Kaya sa akin, there are side issues that are not on point.

Ang point talaga is number one, may abortion ba dito o wala? Number two, do you allow each individual to make their individual choices, without interfering with their practice of religion? Number three, siguro 'yon ang hindi napag-uusapan o 'yon ang nalilito si Sen. Lacson noong nagtatanong siya, how do you define abortion?

Alam niyo, may mga religion na hindi kayo pwede magsiping kung hindi kayo makakabuo ng baby. Kailangan magkaroon ng baby. For them, simply stealing the seeds of the man is already abortion. Ang alam natin, may discussion sa Philippine constitution on what constitutes abortion. May scientific definition 'yan.

Those are the things that we have to discuss on, and really decide on whether we're going against any religion in hoping for this. Siguro importante na question dito is "is it imposing something?" Whether or not public funds should be used for contraceptives, that's another issue altogether.

Because many legislators believe na dapat unahin ang pagkain. Halimbawa, if you tell me dapat ba tayo na magbigay ng P1 billion sa contraceptives, I'd rather put P1 billion sa SUCs. But whether families should have the option to use contraceptives, I think, yes. Because if their religion allows them to, why would we deny that?

Right now, they can buy it from the drug stores. RH is really a complex issue that I think it's best na ma-exhaust lahat ng arguments sa floor then let each congressman and senator follow their conscience in voting for it. But I don't deny that there's going to be a lot of lobbying and a lot of politicking in this.

Q: is this bill for population control or for health?

When I was in the House, I had that view. Because many of the bills filed there sort of referred to population as a means of national development or population control. But listening to the lady senators in the senate, and looking at the senate version, the focus of the senate's version of the RH is really health. Really protecting women in their health rather than population control.

In fact, there hasn't been a mention anymore of the population control, except for family planning, which isn't a nationwide population control program, but is a family population control, which the constitution recognizes.

Again, as I've said and written in the committee report, I do have my reservations, I do have my issues, like Sen. Ping, that I'd like to bring up on the floor eventually.

On the Language of the RH bill debates

Q: Yung na i-shift yung debate sa Filipino/Tagalog since he (Lapid) can't understand the technical terms. Kaya lang, especially last night terms like masturbation, ejaculation, lumalabas na.. so wouldn't that be a sensitive thing when we do that to accommodate his request or how do you think we should go about that?

It's a reasonable request since many Filipinos speak Filipino. But it's also reasonable that certain terms are left in English because.. look at Mathematics, there's a 30, 40-year debate whether you can teach Mathematics in Filipino. And it took time for us to figure out yung terms that we will agree on, that is equivalent to learning it in English. So, hindi ganoon kadali.

Also, remember language is part of culture. So, kung may mga terms na sa English ay hindi bastos pero sa Tagalog pag pinakinggan mo ay iba ang dating sa masa, we have to be sensitive about it. So I think yung request na lang niya is should be taken as much as possible. So, ibig sabihin kasi nacocover na yung mga debates.. ang ibig niyang sabihin siguro, para nasusundan yung bawat.. kumbaga sa boxing, blow by blow ng RH Bill rather than bits and pieces.

So, in general, why not or why they can request that aside from Sen. Pia and Sen. Miriam, meron din magdefend in Filipino or magdiscuss nung debate in Filipino. But to have it wholly in Filipino, Baliktad din. Pag sinabing wholly in English, makikita mo nagta-taglish din minsan naman yung ibang sponsor ng bill. In the end, it's what benefits the public. But we have to adjust to public sensitivities then. I don't want to mention the words. You said the technical terms in fact sa Tagalog, mas bastos ang dating. Like for example, when I was speaking kanina.. for as far as for sex halimbawa, there's a Filipino word they use when I was in elementary sa teaching us Sex Ed yung "siping" na hindi bastos ang dating, na hindi malaswa. I think malaswa is a better word than bastos. Pwede naman maging sensitive sag anon pero pano kung walang word na ganun? Hindi ka naman pwede mag-imbento ng word na for that.

Q: I think yung mga ganung English naman maiintindihan na ni Lito Lapid,dba?

I think, siya naman naiintindihan niya. I was just saying that in general, d'ba kasi pag may imbestigasyon mismong mga staff ang nagsasabi na speak in Filipino or "Mag-Tagalog po kayo, Sir para mas maintindihan. So, you know, I think it's in that context, to benefit the public kasi nga nakikita niya minsan na nali-Live na yung mga discussion.

Q: Sir, hindi ba pwedeng maiwasan yung mga terms na yung mga [...]

Hindi mo maiiwasan kasi ang pinag uusapan ay Reproductive Health. So, ang pag-uusapan mo talaga ang tungkol dun sa sex. But as I said, use the word, "siping" hindi malaswa ang dating. So, kailangan ng legislator na maging picky at very sensitive na ang gagamiting terms ay scientific ang dating para in Tagalog, hindi nakakapukaw ng damdamin either way.. negatively or positively sa iba.

Whatever happens, we are all people and sexuality will always be part of culture and will always be a sensitive issue. But the problem is there's also a concept of being politically correct. So halimbawa, marami din kasing lumalabas sa bibig na anti-women na hindi na nakakatawa.

Iba yung may sinabi ka, na pati ang babae natatawa because if it's clean fun, or sabi nila it's a little bit naughty but iba yung offensive na. So, that's the problem where do you cross the line and we're talking about adults. What about yung mga children na nakikinig.

Siguro like anything else na sensitive, extreme caution lang. Let's just remember that these debates are public and we mean more good than harm. So, even sa nagtatanong or sumasagot, there's a way to prove your point without doing more damage or harm.

Q: Pero Sir, kung intellectual debate naman, diba kahit gumamit ng ganung terms walang malisya naman yung ano..

When you say, ganung terms, if you use the word sensitively pero kahit intellectual yung debate, but minsan yung pagkasabi lang nung term, or nung tone,or nung circumstance ng pagkagamit. For example, there's a big difference between using the term Homosexual halimbawa than using the terms that are degrading sa mga .. those who believe in homosexuality.. that's an example.

So, regardless if I agree in that lifestyle or not , in my religious faith.. respeto lang naman na wag gumamit ng mga terms na degrading sa kanila.

I think there are two very strong women defending the bill. So I don't think personally it affects them; but yung slurs that affects women (in general). Kasi ang point nga ng bill is to protect women kaya hindi puwede na yung sa debate pa lang may mga against women na.

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