Sotto to pro-RH: Bulaga! I went to HarvardBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
His prolife opinions may not be to the liking of certain parties, but Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III declares he’s no “iskul-bukol” when it comes to the issue of reproductive health.
Sotto on Saturday cried foul over personal attacks against him over his vigorous campaign against the approval of Senate Bill No. 2865, which seeks to establish a national reproductive health framework and allow wider access to contraceptives.
Sotto, a 12-year Senate veteran, has been ridiculed by supporters of the RH bill, particularly in social media. He has been portrayed as being intellectually challenged, largely because of his occasional hosting job at the popular “Eat Bulaga” noontime variety and entertainment show and his background as a comedian and musician.
“It’s because they only know me from ‘Iskul Bukol,’” he said, referring to the popular TV 1980s sitcom featuring a bunch of mischievous, overaged and underachieving schoolboys played by Sotto, his younger brother Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon.
“When you are doing something right, expect to be attacked. If God is using you to do something right, expect to be attacked viciously. I am rejoicing,” he said.
“I know that what I’m doing is right. Once my critics come to their senses and realize the dangers lurking behind the RH bill, they will be sorry,” he said.
Sotto would like his critics to know that he is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He said he attended the Boston, Massachusetts, institution 11 years ago.
He was also a vice mayor of Quezon City for four years and chaired the Dangerous Drugs Board from 2008 to 2009.
Demonizing the RH bill
Sen. Pia Cayetano, who as co-sponsor of the RH bill stands on the opposite side of Sotto, also deplored the “character assassination by association” of Sotto during the plenary debates on the measure.
In a statement, Cayetano said this was “one of the tactics being employed by critics of the RH bill to demonize the measure and unfairly portray certain nongovernment organizations supporting the bill as ‘pro-abortion.’”
Last week, Sotto called attention to the alleged affiliation of local groups lobbying for the passage of the bill with international organizations openly advocating abortion.
The senator was able to solicit the support of the Filipinos for Life group, which noted a local pro-RH organization’s supposed advocacy for abortion. It was referring to EnGenderRights Inc., a member of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network, an umbrella organization of RH advocates all over the Philippines.
Filipinos for Life cited a Sept. 3, 2009, letter from EnGenderRights Inc. to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In the letter, the group supposedly wanted the committee to ask the Philippine government questions like: “What measures are being taken to abolish criminal abortion laws and legalize abortion? What steps is the government taking to enact specific sexual and reproductive rights legislation? What steps is the government taking to enact specific divorce legislation?”
To Filipinos for Life, this showed how illogical the pro-RH solution was.
“They say, ‘Abortion is rampant, therefore we should legalize it.’ Graft is rampant. Should we legalize plunder? Murder and rape are rampant. Should we legalize murder and rape?” it said.