Sotto says 'no effort to delay passage' of RH bill

November 28, 2011 11:02 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 28 -– Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III denied on Monday that "there is an effort to delay the passage" of the controversial Reproductive Health bill in the Senate.

”That’s unfair, especially to us, the leaders of the Senate because if I want to delay it, I will not put it in the order of business or I will not put it in the special calendar,” Sotto said in a media interview before Monday’s session.

During the session, Senator Pia Cayetano, co-sponsor of the Senate version (SB No. 2865) of the National Reproductive Health Act of 2011, expressed manifestation to proceed to the period of amendments of the bill.

Sotto, however, clarified that more senators have expressed interest to interpellate, including Senators Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Serge Osmena III and even Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

”These senators have reserved for interpellation, so we cannot stop the debate yet,” Sotto said.

Cayetano clarified that she manifested her desire to proceed to the period of amendments after Osmena and Lacson informed her before Congress took a recess last October 15 that they would no longer interpellate.

”They had told me before we went on recess that they would no longer interpellate. I thought this is the perfect time to end debates,” Cayetano explained.

She expressed readiness to answer more questions from her colleagues who want to be clarified about what she describes as an "important measure."

Cayetano also clarified that she did not say there was an effort to delay the passage of the bill, adding, “what I said was I certainly hope that there was no intention to delay.”

”I have never indicated that the Senate majority floor leader has intention not to calendar or delay. Now that we are aware that there are more senators who want to ask, I can do my own follow-up. But again I will reiterate my desire to move forward,” Cayetano said.

The Senate started debates on the controversial measure late in September but had to give way for the discussions on the 2012 National Budget which the Senate approved last week.

In a separate media interview before the session, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, co-sponsor of the RH bill, said she would try to move for period of amendments of the bill before the Senate adjourns for Christmas break on December 17.

”What we are hoping is we stop now the period of interpellations because this has gone on for so long. Our position with Senator Pia Cayetano is that we should now move on to the period of amendments,” Santiago said.

However, Santiago clarified that she and Cayetano are still willing, during the period of amendments, to answer interpellations “just in case there are still any left.”

”That is at least so we can move forward because the public is now very restive,” Santiago said.

She said supporters of the RH bill continue to snowball as indicated in her last university forum where more than 3,000 students favored the passage of the bill. (PNA)

DCT/scs/jfm

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