How would you assess first day of debates on the RH Bill?
It is exactly what we expected. We expected a challenge to exchange opinions but we already have decided, Sen. Pia Cayetano and I as sponsor and co-sponsor, that if it is simply what I call an ‘opinion question’ we’re not going to dispute it because one person is entitled to his own opinion. And since we are already here with preconceived positions on the RH bill, whether pro- or anti-, there’s no point that hoping we could convert the other person. So we developed a strategy that we would just allow any oppositor to air as much of his beliefs or suppositions for as long as it takes, and then we’ll simply say “We appreciate the opinion but I have already taken my position.” So we are not going to dispute any opinion questions.
What can you say about the comment that here are already laws like the RH bill, and that the provisions in the RH bill should instead be included in these existing laws?
Laws always do that. They always, in effect, repeat each other—at least in the marginal provisions. So there is nothing illegal or prohibited about repeating what one law has said. Instead, it should be taken as an emphasis from the lawmakers on a certain point of view. So there is no prohibition against redundant provisions in different bills. Plus, it could be possible that one bill is general in nature while the RH bill is specific in nature, and the rule of statutory construction is when one bill is general in nature and another is specific in nature, the courts will uphold the law that is specific in nature. So in effect even if there were similar or identical provisions, that is simply an insurance that when the bill is brought to court the Supreme Court will be persuaded by the position because the bills succeeding each other are repetitions of each other, meaning to say the lawmakers have very strong opinions about a certain provisions in the bill.
What can you say about the view that the RH bill when passed will just make money for contraceptive makers?
Bawat panukalang batas na pinapasa dito sa Senado meron talagang kikita diyan. Gaya ng halimbawa ko nga kanina, ang pinakaunang trabaho ng gobyerno ay subukang bigyan tayo ng kapayapaan at katahimikan sa ating lipunan, kaya dapat may army at pulis. Oras na gumawa ka ng army, gagastos ka talaga ng pera. Bibili ka ng mga baril, bala, at kanyon. Magkakaroon ng negosyo ang mga gumagawa ng baril. Kaya bawat gastos ng gobyerno para sa mamamayan, sigurado iyang may negosyante na kikita. But that is our capitalist system. Kaya hindi mo magagamit na argumento iyan dahil sinasabi nila na kung pumasa itong RH Bill maraming bibili ng condom, kikita ang mga condom manufacturers. Pero kung manatili tayo sa natural rhythm method na siya namang advocacy ng mga anti-RH, eh di kikita naman ang mga gumagawa ng kalendaryo at mga thermometers because you have to take the temperature of the woman. So either way you slice it, talagang may kikita.