Following Sen. Tito Sotto’s interpellation that lambasted advocacy groups during Mondays’ Senate session, a group of women advocates working with grassroots communities condemned Sotto’s witch hunting and black propaganda against organizations involved in the passage of the much-delayed Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), one of the groups that Sotto hit said that the Senate Majority Floor Leader uses his power to pick on RH bill advocates instead of doing his job which is to schedule the voting for the measure.
According to Angsioco, Sotto’s arguments that organizations do not exist because they are not registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) only revealed the Senators’ lack of understanding about how most organizations work. “Sotto should know that a big number of organizations, especially those composed of marginalized sectors are not SEC-registered but are actively working for social transformation. It is a pity that the Senator hits organizations that are actually helping the government and politicians like him, do their work,” she added.
“It looks like that in his effort to look for ‘ammunitions’ against RH groups such as international connections and funding, he hit all organizations, whether he found something or nothing. It’s funny that those he hit including the ones he accused of being ‘foreign agents’ are actually some of the most recognized organizations in the country,” Angsioco said.
As the national chairperson of DSWP Angsioco takes offense, she said that DSWP has been working with grassroots women for almost two and a half decades. “We are present in 14 regions of the country and have been instrumental in the passage of several laws including the Anti-Rape, Anti-Violence against Women and their Children and the Magna Carta of Women. We have, for years been working with both Houses of Congress and other government institutions like the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),” she stressed.
Unfortunately for Sotto, Angioco explained, there is nothing new in his arguments against the bill. They are basically the same ones that he has been mouthing since the start of his never ending interpellation. Sotto desperately attempts to veer the discussion toward an imaginary international conspiracy to bring abortion to the country. “This argument is absurd. No pro-abortion law can be passed in this country because of the Constitutional prohibition against it,” Angsioco asserted.
Angioco emphasized that if Sotto is true to his word that he is not delaying the bill, then he should yield the floor to other Senators who might want to interpellate. “It is him always interpellating. What he is doing is tantamount to filibustering so the bill doesn’t get voted on,” she said.
“If indeed, Sotto is not blocking the RH bill, then he should do his responsibility and put the bill to a vote. It is time, as what Senators Defensor-Santiago and Cayetano say, vote on the RH bill now!” Angsioco ended. Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Media Advocacy Officer, Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc.