MANILA, Philippines – Senate deliberations became tense on Wednesday after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile twitted a fellow senator for questioning his right to ask questions about the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
Sen. Tito Sotto first delivered the last part of his “turno en contra” speech in which he denounced the bill as anti-poor and a population control measure. He then said Enrile wanted to interpellate him on his speech against Senate Bill 2865 but was not yet ready to ask questions.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, then asked why Enrile would want to question Sotto when both lawmakers are against the bill.
She said she had read reports that the bill would be delayed till next year despite various instances when she stood up to discuss the bill.
“It appears I am being told that there is not enough time to interpellate this bill…,” she said. She also added that she is willing to stay in the Senate until 12 midnight to be interpellated on the bill.
Enrile, however, denied that he had any plan to delay the bill.
“I have been in the Senate for a long, long time already and I have never been asked to state the purpose of my interpellation. If they will check my record since 1987 when I was privileged to join the Senate until today, I have never used dilatory tactics or any manner of delaying the passage of any bill. I think the record will show any question I asked here had relevance to the issue at hand,” he said.
He later asked point-blank: “I resent being questioned to state my purpose. Who are you to challenge my purpose here?”
The Senate President said he wanted to ask Sotto about the population experiences of countries such as Russia, Italy, Spain, Poland, China, Japan and the rest of the world.
He said that it is his duty as a senator to dissect the bill to see if the policy is right or destructive.
“I hope I will not be shackled and I resent any implication that I am here to derail or obstruct the passage of this measure. I will challenge anyone here to show me that I have ever delayed the passage of any bill here but nobody can dictate to me, whoever you are,” he said.