Sotto reacts to Rina’s column on Sotto
I respond to the column of Rina Jimenez-David titled “‘AlDub’ and the DOH budget cut” (Opinion, 1/15/16). May I correct the following assertions of David, lest she misleads her readers. David claims:
- That Sotto maneuvered “to excise the amount (P1 billion) meant to buy contraceptives.”
David is wrong. The truth is that the P1-billion reduction from the Department of Health budget was a “finance committee amendment”; I had nothing to do with it. My proposed reduction from the Family Health and Responsible Parenthood (FHRP) program of the DOH was less than P200 million, based on the Commission on Audit’s report as well as the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court. Additionally, Senate finance committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda had already explained thus: “The DOH has enough funds for family planning commodities this year. The budget for the procurement of contraceptives is not zero. There remains P1.6 billion that can be used for this…. The commodities procured in the last quarter of 2015 will overflow until midyear of 2016. The DOH also has remaining unobligated funds for FHRP last year. Also, historical data show that the DOH is unable to completely spend its budget every year. These unused obligations or savings can be realigned within the agency as long as approved by the President.”
- That Sotto “had a hand in the cases filed in the Supreme Court—questioning the constitutionality of the RPRH [Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act] then claiming that certain forms of contraception caused abortion.”
David is wrong again. The truth is that I do not know the petitioners therein nor would they take orders from me. Had David done simply a Google-search, she would have known that the petitioners included former senator Francisco S. Tatad, James and Lovely-Ann Imbong, Expedito Bugarin Jr., Eduardo Olaguer, Almarim Centi Tillah and Abdulhussein Kashim, Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc., Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc., Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City Inc., Philippine Alliance of XSeminarians, Doctors for Life, Filipinos for Life, Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Inc., Millenium Saint Foundation Inc., and Couples for Christ Foundation Inc. To make me their influencer is giving me too much power.
- That “[t]he reason he (Sotto) ranks so high in surveys is not exactly a mystery. In fact, it can be summed up thus: the kalyeserye (street series) segment of the noontime variety show ‘Eat Bulaga.’”
David is wrong once again and contradicts herself. Early on in her column, David conceded: “Ever since polling firms began asking voters their senatorial preferences for this year’s elections, Sotto has ended up consistently on top of the list.” The AlDub segment of “Eat Bulaga” is barely six months old and David knows very well that the survey firms started much, much earlier.
I sense a general disdain in David for entertainment and sports personalities who break into politics and public service. Maybe when intellectuals throw their hats into the political ring would we see the days David pines for. In the meantime, I refuse to believe that David would agree to be an implanted media practitioner doing the bidding of international contraceptive manufacturers.
—SEN. VICENTE C. SOTTO III
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