Senator Pia Cayetano on Headstart

I missed the Headstart episode on ANC yesterday morning. I could watch it on Iwantv but via Twitter [I follow (and admire) both Karen Davila (@Karen_DaviLa) and Senator Pia (@piacayetano)] I got this link to the transcript so I read on (click image to see the transcript)

Just through the words I can already feel Sen. Pia’s passion about the RH Bill, and getting it discussed and eventually passed. She is right, there is probably much support from legislators, but because it’s nearly election time and it’s a controversial topic, they are not very forthcoming with their position.

What is wrong with us? The RH Bill makes so much sense. It is relevant. Why can’t we get it passed into law? It is true, much of its provisions can be implemented without having to be put into law, but then you leave it to the incumbent ruling party, whoever that may be at any given time, whether or not provide these vital services.

We cannot leave it up to the president, or the next Mayor, or Barangay Captain, to determine the type of reproductive health care assistance women and teenagers receive. Not anymore. The law must provide for it. It is also apparent that the proposed bill does not dictate a specific budget, only that a budget must be approved based on the recommendation of the DOH, based on expert recommendation.

When I worked in children’s rights’ advocacies, Reproductive Health was also a hot topic. Everyone agrees that depending on a child’s evolving capacities, they must receive relevant information on this, specially since their lives may depend on it. We supported RH and respected NGOs that actually gave away condoms to older girls. But we never advocated early sex. It is possible. It is possible to educate children about sexuality without encouraging them to do it before they are responsible enough for the consequences.

Let’s not be hypocrites. I guess in some ways I am. I’ve never been really comfortable talking about sex, specially not my own experiences. But we have to admit that in this age, sex before marriage happens more times than we care to acknowledge. The RH bill seeks the protection of women, married or not, so that they can receive the information and help they need.

Many are prone to be Pro RH Bill as a means for population control. Although that is a valid issue too, Sen. Pia argues that the RH Bill is first foremost a gender and health issue.

Now I realize that I may have readers who are against the RH bill. I respect that. But also think of this: if you have no need for this law, there are thousands and perhaps millions of other Filipino women and girls out there who do. You may not directly benefit from the law, but do not deprive those who desperately need the services that it seeks to put in place.

I am a woman. And I support the RH bill.