Miriam asks students: Who isn't interested in sex?
"Sino sa inyo ang interesado sa sex?" Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked a crowd of college students at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa on Friday.
No one raised a hand, but there were murmurs.
"Kung hindi ka interesado, magpagamot ka. Abnormal 'yan," the senator said.
The audience burst into applause and laughter.
Santiago was the keynote speaker at a forum on the reproductive health (RH) bill organized by the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, The Forum for Family Planning and Development, and the university's Political Science Society.
While tackling serious issues such as the need to educate the poor and the youth about their reproductive health rights, Santiago grabbed the attention of her audience of young people with her punchlines.
Even as she pointed out that sex is not bad, Santiago told them that education should be their priority.
"Sex will come, too. Preferably married sex."
"Pero kung hindi mo na talaga mapigilan," she added, "puwede ba, mag-condom ka na lang?"
RH bill haters might be using contraceptives
Santiago stressed in her speech that the bill does not promote promiscuity and abortion, but instead seeks to give women access to safe family planning methods, and inform the youth about the dangers of unprotected sex.
She also debunked views that giving the youth sex education, which the bill provides for, would make them promiscuous.
On the contrary, she said studies have proven that giving the youth enough information would help them avoid pre-marital and unprotected sex.
"Mali 'yong iniisip natin na magtatakbuhan sila sa ilalim ng acacia at magse-sex silang lahat," Santiago said.
Santiago also hit the RH bill's opponents as "intransigent, stubborn, and stupid."
She said some of them may even be using contraceptives.
"I will inspect the bedroom of these rich people, and see what methods of contraception they are using. And I will accuse them of hypocrisy in front of the Filipino people," Santiago said.
She also bared a plan for the bill's critics in Congress.
"Hahanapin ko ang mga magulang nila at bibigyan ko ng emergency contraceptives para hindi na makapanganak ng mga kamukha nila," Santiago said.
She added that the Catholic Church must not not block the bill's passage on religious grounds, saying the Bible should not be interpreted literally.
Even the Church, Santiago said, wants people to follow their conscience and not obey its orders blindly.
"Ang pari kamukha lang natin. Tao lang siya, gago rin siya kung hindi siya marunong. Not necessarily tama ang pinagsasasabi nila," she said.
No vote for anti-RH pols
Santiago is determined to put the controversial measure to a vote in the Senate at the soonest possible time. It is currently in the period of interpellation.
She said she and her co-sponsor, health and demography committee chair Pia Cayetano, will file a motion asking that the interpellation period be stopped so that voting on the bill can begin within this year.
However, the bill's opponents, including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, had said they still have many questions to ask regarding the bill and that interpellations would resume next year.
Meanwhile, some student leaders vowed not to vote for anti-RH lawmakers who will run in the 2013 elections, and said they will convince other youths to do so.
"Handa kami na magkampanya laban sa mga lehislador na ito kung tatakbo man sila sa 2013," said JC Tejano, national spokesperson of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, which has chapters in 30 cities. "We are ready to launch an anti-anti-RH campaign."
Tejano said it's already futile to convince anti-RH lawmakers to vote for the bill because its proponents have already explained all its features satisfactorily and even repetitively.
He said they will portray anti-RH bill lawmakers as enemies of the youth.