KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA News 08/24/2011 | 03:52 PM
A youth group on Wednesday demanded an apology from Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III for his statements during the Senate debate on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
In a statement, Akbayan Youth national chairperson Leloy Claudio said Sotto should apologize for disbelieving statistics indicating there are 11 maternal deaths reported everyday. “Senator Sotto must apologize for his callous and insulting remarks made against our mothers,” he said.
“In one fell swoop, Sotto spat on the suffering of Filipino mothers. Maybe an affluent man like him can disregard the plight of indigent women. But the Filipino youth know better. These are our mothers and we will not let a sexist senator lie to us about their plight,” he added.
Last Monday, Sotto refused to believe that 11 mothers die everyday, adding that the data should not be made a basis to pass the RH bill.
“(These are) not actual figures. There are no names. There are no faces to the 11 maternal deaths a day,” he said. “May I ask the committee to furnish the Senate a copy of how this survey was arrived at? I will try to urge certain senators to vote for this bill tomorrow on third reading if they will be able to present that,” he added.
Claudio, however, said that it is “an accepted fact” that an average of 11 women die every day because of pregnancy-related causes. “This was established in 2006 by a Family Planning Survey of the National Statistics Office – a fact affirmed by the UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report in 2009.
Does the senator honestly think he can wish away realities discovered by credible organizations? Does he want to challenge the credibility of the UN?” he said. “Maybe he should spend time at the PGH [Philippine General Hospital] or Fabella and see that women do die or suffer from severe illnesses related to pregnancy. After which, he should spend time with the families of these women, particularly the children,” he added.
UN not a credible source?
But in an interview with GMA News Online on Wednesday, Sotto said he has been to several public hospitals, and that he has yet to see proof of the said figures. “Andami kong tinutulungan sa public hospitals, sila ang pumunta. Nagagalit nga yung duktor na iba, bakit daw parang pinalalabas na ang hihina nila, hanggang ngayon may namamatay pa rin sa panganganak, eh ang gagaling na nila ngayon,” he said.
Also, her said Akbayan should not immediately believe figures just because they supposedly came from any UN body. “Lalong di ko dapat paniwalaan dahil galing sa UN, kasi doon sa UN Office of Drugs and Crime nakaaway namin yun kasama ang mga taga-PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency] tungkol sa mga statistics nila na mali,” he said.
“Sila kapag sinabing galing sa UN, pag sinabing Amerika, pag sinabing USAID, naniniwala agad sila, bilib na kaaagad sila, akala ko ba Akbayan sila, bayan ang paniwalaan nila,” he added, saying that they should believe groups like the Philippine Medical Association.
Sotto, however, said that he will no longer issue comments regarding the issue until the Senate health committee provides him with documents detailing how the figures were arrived at. — LBG, GMA News