The Senate on Tuesday night voted to keep these phrases as it rejected President Juan Ponce Enrile’s proposal to delete references to risk-free and happy sex in the definitions of reproductive health and sexual health.
Sen. Francis Escudero himself expressed “discomfort” over the terms “safe” and “satisfying sex,” drawing a response from Sen. Pia Cayetano, cosponsor of the bill.
“My question is: ‘What would the gentleman want?’ The gentleman does not know if he would want his wife to have a satisfying sex life?” asked Cayetano.
Escudero, whose marriage was recently annulled, said: “I would not know anymore. The sponsor should have asked me before but right now I cannot give the answer.”
“No, I am speaking in a hypothetical … I assume the gentleman will have a wife again because I know you are in love,” Cayetano retorted.
Escudero is dating actress Heart Evangelista.
A brief yet still heated discussion occurred between Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Enrile after the former told the body that “safe and satisfying sex life” has become part of international vocabulary on human rights, particularly of women’s rights.
“It is a phrase used in the final act of the International Conference on Population and Development,” Santiago said.
Enrile’s response: “I must confess my ignorance about international law but I made that proposal because I am a Filipino legislator.”
“If it does not ring well to others who are more brilliant than my cockle head, so be it,” Enrile added.
Santiago took exception to Enrile’s remarks, saying, “I feel alluded to and I resent it.”
“So be it,” came Enrile’s curt retort.
Enrile proposed the deletion of the phrases, saying “there is no need for that statement because this matter referring to the sex life of the couple is and should not be a concern of the State.
“In fact, it has no business to be telling us to do that,” Enrile said, defending his amendment deleting “safe and satisfying sex” from the bill.
“Precisely, Mr. President. My response is, it simply defines that reproductive health includes a safe and satisfying sex life for the couple; precisely giving them that privilege and that right,” Cayetano countered.
Those who voted against Enrile’s amendment were Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Santiago, Escudero, Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Sergio Osmeña III and Francis Pangilinan.
Those who voted in favor of Enrile’s amendment were Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan II, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr., Vicente Sotto III and Enrile.
The same vote results came in when Pia Cayetano objected to Enrile’s proposed deletion of “pleasurable” in the definition of sexual health.
The results of the voting on Tuesday caused Santiago to express confidence that there were enough senators in favor of the RH bill for it to pass the chamber.
“I can smell victory,” Santiago told reporters on Wednesday after the Tuesday night voting on the proposed amendments resulted in a score of 11-6 twice, 12-4 and 9-8 all in favor of the objections raised by her co-sponsor.
“It appears that of the four amendments, all were voted down because we had the majority. So it appears, therefore, that we have 11 senators we can count on but there will be more core supporters because there were really some senators who were absent last night,” she added.
Santiago mentioned Senators Edgardo Angara (who was abroad) and Joker Arroyo (who was no longer in the hall) when the voting on Enrile and Sen. Ralph Recto’s amendments was conducted.
“It looks like we can protect the essence of the RH bill,” Santiago said.
Enrile also proposed that an amendment be adopted to mandate the Department of Science and Technology to assist the Department of Health (DOH) in deciding which reproductive health supplies would be distributed following thorough testing.
He said this would “counterbalance” the DOH evaluation.
The voting afterward resulted in a 12-4 score against Enrile’s proposed amendment.
All proposed amendments that were put to a vote were decided in favor of the objections of the sponsors of the measure.
In his own set of amendments, Recto proposed that the national government, instead of local government units, be in charge of establishing hospitals for obstetrics and newborn care.
Recto argued that mandating the LGUs to establish such health facilities would be too much of a burden for poor municipalities.
“To just make it entirely the national government’s responsibility would not be acceptable to me,” Pia Cayetano said. The vote ended 9-8 in favor of her objection.
Recto’s amendment keeping access to modern methods of family planning methods off limits to minors if they have no written consent from parents and guardians remains pending.