June 6, 2012
Transcript of interview
On the RH Bill, after the Senate ended the period of interpellations on the bill yesterday
It has not been certified as urgent by the President, and today is our last session day (before sine die adjournment). So even if we approve it on second reading--meaning to say, after all the amendments have been acted upon--still, we have to wait for three days (that is the rule), before we can vote on it. Apparently, since there will be no more sessions after this--unless the Senate decides otherwise this afternoon--it cannot be passed anyway. As I have predicted, we may have to pass it after the SONA, by August. That is our best hope.
We will be very relieved if that happens because the RH Bill has been pending for decades in Congress. I think the general benefits will outweigh the doubts if they are still lingering in the minds of people who have been influenced with the theology and members of the religious.
Can you foresee any challenges in the period of amendments?
We do not foresee any serious challenge in the bill itself. There may be some debates on the phraseology concerning the inclusion of the contraceptive medication in the so-called national formulary or in the stock of medicines kept by every hospital. I think the provisions for the information asked for by a patient, there will be no significant amendments. Maybe the amendments will be about the subsidy from the government in dispensing the medication.
Will the RH Bill get the required number of votes?
I hope so because I think after the impeachment trial some of the senators that were strongly opposed to the RH Bill, maybe with the influence of those clerics as previously mentioned, now seemed to have softened their stand. I think that after all the violent argumentation during the impeachment trial, the senators are feeling much more conciliatory with each other, and hoped to move from their original positions to a more closer and harmonious relationship with the sponsors of the RH bill. Sen. Pia Cayetano and I are filled with very high hopes that we can have it passed by August or before the end of the year. We are looking forward to that because hopefully we can close the period of amendments by this afternoon.
Wala na po bang makakaharang sa RH Bill?
Wala na, kasi we finished virtually the entire panoply of questions that could possibly be raised. We are very patient, and we always retreated to allow more and more interpellations. So I think we have exhausted the Senate as far as questions are concerned. With respect to the amendments, we are ready with an open mind to accept those that might become necessary because politics is the art of compromise, as long as they don't compromise the basic principles of the RH Bill
On the issue of Ambassador Padalhin's SALN in the Commission on Appointments hearing this morning
We (in the CA) are very tolerant with the explanation that he just received wrong legal advice that what he should have reported was not reported because he was instructed that it was not necessary to report them. Here you can see the attitude of, at least, the committee on foreign affairs is leniency. We are very lenient with the omission in the SALN. This is different from the omission of the defendant in the impeachment trial where the majority of the senators were very strict. So it depends on what was omitted. In this case, the omission concerned a house and lot that was not reported because it was located abroad. The advice he received is that since it was abroad, he did not need to include it in his SALN. You can see here that there is a shift of mood among the CA members.
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