MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rejected Senator Pia Cayetano's request to tackle the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill ahead of other bills during Tuesday's session, and even dared her to have him kicked out of his position if she insists on it.
Cayetano, chair of the health and demography committee, asked his colleagues for 30 minutes to discuss the RH bill, which she said has been pending for almost two years.
She noted that only Enrile and Sen. Ralph Recto are left to give individual amendments to the bill.
"Since I'm only asking for 30 minutes, can this be taken up before sin tax?" she said. "If I take it up after, then some of you will question the quorum. That is unfair to me, the sponsor, and to every person who would like to see this measure come to its rightful end."
Enrile said he cannot be compelled to give his amendments.
When Cayetano asked him when he would be ready, Enrile answered, "I don't know, Madame Senator, when I'm ready."
Cayetano said she will have to make a decision on how to proceed with the bill, invoking her right to defend it as its sponsor.
Turning irate, Enrile replied, "I'm ready for any remedy that the gentle lady would want to take. If you want to put it into a vote that I be censured or be kicked out as Senate President or I be outvoted, so be it."
The RH bill has been on the agenda for several days but the sin tax bill eats up almost the entire daily sessions, as senators aim to pass the tax measure next week before the 2013 budget deliberations.
Cayetano and her co-sonspor, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, had urged their colleagues to put the RH bill to a vote and stop what they believe are delaying tactics.