Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Tito Sotto face off in RH Bill plenary

(SPOT.ph) The debate between senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Tito Sotto during the first interpellation of the Reproductive Health Bill in the Senate heated up yesterday, August 22, as the arguments stretched from the practical to the philosophical and political, reports ABS-CBN News. Santiago is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, while Sotto is a staunch anti-RH Bill supporter.

In a GMA News report, Sotto reasoned that provisions in the bill were already present in the Magna Carta for Women. "It’s actually a copy and paste," he said, suggesting that pertinent clauses in the RH Bill should just be incorporated into existing laws.  Sen. Pia Cayetano, one of the RH Bill’s co-sponsors, assured Sotto that her camp will look into that possibility.

However, the interpellation turned towards the philosophical when the issue of when life begins was brought up. Santiago said the question was out of their range of expertise. "We can argue about this till kingdom come and never arrive at an answer. Even the medical profession cannot arrive at a consensus with this. Even I will refuse to adopt an opinion of someone who is not a doctor." Capitalizing on Santiago’s uncertainty, Sotto countered: "If something is under a piece of paper and you’re not sure if it’s a piece of trash or a cat, do you run over it? Doesn’t conscience tell you to verify if it is indeed unborn?"

Sotto said that the only expert on the matter is God. "Until the time comes that we get to meet him, huwag tayong magdunung-dunungan (let’s not try to be all-knowing)," he said in the ABS-CBN report to which Santiago countered, "There is no proof that God is male."


Sotto then asked if the RH Bill was about money. He pointed out that the statistics used by the bill’s proponents were conducted by USAID, a US agency associated with manufacturers of contraceptives. However, Santiago called this argument a "cheap shot." "Anything the government does will make profit somewhere in any capitalist society. Let’s elevate political discourse to a higher level," she said, explaining that even calendar-makers profit from the rhythm method.

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News and GMA News.


Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Tito Sotto verbally spar in the first interpellation of the Reproductive Health Bill

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