Sotto admits RH bill close to being passedBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“May God have mercy on their souls.”
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III made this statement as he played the “God’s mercy” card on reproductive health-bill advocates after Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago declared after last week’s period of amendments that there are enough pro-RH lawmakers to pass the contentious maternal health measure.
In a text message to the Inquirer, the staunch anti-RH lawmaker said the votes that kept “safe and satisfying sex” in the bill’s definition of reproductive health did not mean the measure’s passage was in the bag for its proponents.
He admitted, however, that bill is closer to being passed.
“The bill is being endorsed by proabortion groups. It will promote immorality among minors. Why do they want to do this?” Sotto said.
Sotto earlier said maternal and child care programs that the RH bill seeks to institutionalize are already being funded and implemented by the government through the Department of Health.
“All the things they want in the bill are all being done. Why do they want to make it a law? My final word will be ‘May God have mercy on their souls,’” Sotto said.
As to Santiago’s claim of victory once the RH bill is finally put to a vote, Sotto said “it’s difficult to say.”
“Senator Joker [Arroyo] is not with them. He is keeping his cards close to his chest. Now, why would we want to pass a law that half the country disapproves of?”
On Tuesday last week, all the changes to the bill that were objected to by sponsor Sen. Pia Cayetano and put to a vote were thumbed down by senators.
Santiago said the voting showed that the RH has a core of 11 senators that it could count on.
She also said the number could be more as Sen. Edgardo Angara was abroad on an official trip while Sen. Joker Arroyo was already out of the hall as the amendments were put to a vote late during the session.
“They do not want to accept the amendments. They want to keep it as a ‘safe and satisfying sex,’” Sotto said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, an ally of President Aquino’s and a supporter of the RH bill, said the target to pass the measure was before Congress’ Christmas break.
The legislature goes on recess on Dec. 21.