MANILA, Philippines - Things turned out interesting in the Senate during the period of amendments Tuesday, when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile proposed the removal of the phrase "safe and satisfying sex life" in the definition of reproductive health (RH).
Enrile said the sex lives of couples is not, and should not, be the concern of the state.
Senators Tito Sotto and Jinggoy Estrada backed Enrile, saying, it is not right for a law to contain these words.
"Bakit kailangan pa ilagay ang batas na iyun? Sagwang tignan sa batas eh! Tignan ninyo, in a law there is a statement 'safe and satisfying sex life,' I won't be a part of that!" Sotto said.
But the debate had its light moments when Senator Francis Escudero's love life was put on the spotlight when he expressed discomfort over the use of the words.
"I'm not comfortable with the law saying safe and satisfying, if only that phrase is removed," he said.
"Is the problem with the [word] 'safe' or 'satisfying'?" RH bill proponent Senator Pia Cayetano said.
"I like both!" Escudero replied, drawing laughter from the audience.
"What would you like your wife or daughter to have? Satisfying or safe?" Cayetano pressed on.
"My daughter? Safe," Escudero said.
"And your wife?" Cayetano asked.
"I do not know," Escudero said, resulting in laughter from the audience.
"My question is what do you want? I am speaking in a hypothetical... I assume you will have a wife again, I know you are currently in love," Cayetano said.
"That is a totally different matter," replied Escudero.
Cayetano and fellow RH advocate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the phrase "safe and satisfying sex life " is integral in the definition and is used in international laws and treaties.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano also defended his sister's bill, saying "What is the discomfort with that phrase? Is it because we are prude? Malaswa? If we all desire a safe and fulfilling sex life, malaswa ba per se? We can find a language that means the same thing."
"What if you live in a city at ang asawa mo gusto ka gamitin gabi-gabi pero ayaw mo at tingin niya sa katawan mo ay gamit lang at ayaw mo mabuntis? If you dont want that there [safe and satisfying sex ], many men will still think that their wives do not have the right!" he said.
After a few hours and heated exchanges, the Senate voted to retain the words in the bill with 11 senators voting in favor and 6 against it.
Senators also debated on whether the responsibility of establishing and upgrading facilities for reproductive health should be shouldered by either the local government or the national government.
The Senate ended proceedings at 7 p.m. and decided to continue the period of amendments Wednesday.
Cayetano is optimistic that the Senate will pass her version of the RH bill before the start of the Christmas break.