Sen. Pia: Senate to start RH Bill debates next week

Senator Pia S. Cayetano said the much-anticipated plenary debates on the Senate version of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill are ready to commence next week at the Upper Chamber.

Cayetano, principal sponsor of Senate Bill No.2865 under Committee Report No.49, otherwise known as ‘The Reproductive Health Act of 2011,’ said she looks forward to ‘intelligent discussions’ between the measure’s sponsors and interpellators in the coming days and weeks.

The lady senator said she expects the interpellations to be opened on the Senate floor after Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivers her co-sponsorship speech on the RH Bill during Monday’s session [August 1].

“I look forward to explaining the different issues and defending the RH bill before my colleagues as an urgent measure that will save the lives of mothers, the newborn and the unborn. I also hope to clarify whatever misconceptions they may have in the course of the plenary debates,” added Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations.

“I do expect sparks to fly from time to time, but I trust the Senate debates to be intelligent, informative and firmly focused on relevant issues related to the measure. The public can follow the debates and actually learn along with us [senators] by monitoring the proceedings through live-streaming on the Senate website [] and through media news reports,” Cayetano shared.

“In answering the interpellations, I will focus on socioeconomics, which covers such topics as maternal and child health, family planning concerns, statistics and other social issues, while Sen. Defensor-Santiago has offered to discuss issues on Catholic theology and constitutional and international law.”

Twenty out of the 23-member chamber signed Committee Report No.49 when it was filed before the Senate adjourned its first regular session last June. Of this number, six signed without reservations, 13 signed with reservations or signified their intention to interpellate or amend, while only 1 dissented.

Cayetano earlier expressed confidence that Pres. Benigno Aquino III continues to support the RH Bill, even if there were no references to the measure in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday. “Even if it wasn’t mentioned in the SONA, I believe that the President supports it,” she said.

She also welcomed the ‘openness’ of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who declared that the Senate was ready to discuss the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the RH Bill in the speech he delivered last week to open the chamber’s second regular session. #