Sotto to name drug firms behind RH lobby

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

A senator bared yesterday a strong lobby backed by multinational drug companies and certain “personalities” that are working for the enactment of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill saying that he will expose them in an appropriate time.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III said he will name the pharmaceutical companies and the personalities behind the lobby group on the RH bill.

”Yes, I will expose them, including the personalities behind the companies lobbying for that bill. I’m just completing the records. I don’t want to mention figures and names without supporting documents,” Sotto told the media before the afternoon session of the chamber.

Sotto vowed to deliver a privilege speech on this matter sometime next week.

“I’m collating all the needed records and I’ll to complete the information over the weekend (and confirm the names of all the) personalites behind these lobby groups. I will not be like them who are giving out figures and information without any documents to back up their claims,” he said.

Asked on the nature of the lobby groups, he identified them as

“pharmaceutical groups, population control groups and family planning groups.”

“I have yet to hear anyone lobby against the bill. All of those lobbying are in favor of the bill. That’s why we’re trying all we can, without any assistance from any one. There’s no need for anyone to tell us what to do here (in arguing against the bill),” he said.

The senator admitted that he is yet to stumble upon any information on lobby funds or any amount being “offered” to lawmakers or even those already in receipt of such money.

Sotto likewise denied that those providing him the data come from the sectors highly opposed to the bill.

He said he already has the initial documents, including some names but just wants to make certain that once out in the open, the information cannot be denied.

The senator admitted that his expose would affect the bill positively or negatively, but “it is best that you let the public know.”

Sotto clarified that the purpose of his expose is not to weaken the RH bill which he opposes but to provide the public more information about the measure which is now being debated at the House.

The bill is expected to be debated at the Senate floor after the state-of-the-nation-address (Sona) of President Aquino on July 25, according to Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Santiago authored Senate Bill 2378 or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development” which is still pending before the Senate health committee.

Amid opposition from most lawmakers, advocates of the reproductive health bill also reiterated their position that the lack of a comprehensive policy on reproductive health bill and family planning causes unemployment.

“The recent SWS report that adult unemployment is steadily increasing clearly exposes the detrimental effects of a lack of a comprehensive policy on reproductive health and family planning on our people,” House minority leader Edcel Lagman said yesterday.

Lagman, citing a recent SWS survey which revealed that 11.3 million or 27.2 percent of Filipinos over the age of 18 are jobless, said that the survey should “spur Congress to finally enact into law the reproductive health bill because there are empirical data which document the links between high fertility and resulting population growth to persistent poverty and wage stagnation in developing countries like the Philippines.”

Lagman explained that based on research conducted by respected economists, rapid population growth expands the labor supply and this will translate into either a decline in wages or an increase in unemployment if there is no commensurate increase in employment opportunities.

He also cited a World Bank study that shows that rapid population growth is likely to depress wages at the bottom end of the pay scale in developing countries where there are disproportionately high levels of fertility among the lowest income groups.

This developed as another religious congregation, yesterday joined the call for the people to reject the reproductive health bill.

According to Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines, D.D., he said that the issue of the RH Bill is more than just a moral or as some sectors say, emotional, issue.

“It is a spiritual issue and thus the fight for the rights and sanctity of life is a spiritual battle,” he said.

Hines, who heads the Cathedral of the King in Mandaluyong City, said: “Life is God’s gift to man so that we may make visible His glory and manifest His image and likeness in a world corrupted by sin. Let us make a stand for righteousness and truth and not be deceived by the wiles of men.”

Hines charged that those behind the reproductive health bill are “unscrupulous and evil men” whose main purpose is to wipe out the Filipinos in the Philippines so that foreign nations can take over its vast mineral resources for their own enrichment.

In the session hall of the House of Representatives debates on the controversial bill continued on the second day with oppositors grilling the sponsors of the bill led by Lagman.

The issues debated include issues about the rights of the unborn, when conception starts and some statements issued by Lagman regarding the alleged amendments introduced in the bill. –Gerry Baldo,Angie M. Rosales, Daily Tribune

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