Sotto turns down RH debate with youth orgs

After his earlier candidness of going strongly against the bill, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has rejected the suggestion of partaking in an academic debate with at least two youth organizations regarding the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

In a text message sent to GMA News Online on Monday by Senator Sotto, he said that there’s no point in debating the bill outside since it was already been discussed in the senate.

The released statement was after the offer of Akbayan Youth and the Ateneo Debate Society (ADS) for Sotto to participate in an academic debate with the group on the said bill.

In a prior statement, Akbayan Youth Chairperson Leloy Claudio said, “We challenge Sotto to a debate. Our youth group can sponsor such a scholarly exercise. I am sure the good senator has a lot more from his intellectual armory than arguments which seemed to have been culled from Wanbol University.”

Akbayan challenged the senator to a debate after the legislator doubted the figures saying that 11 maternal deaths occur every day in the Philippines.

Sotto said he has been to several public hospitals and has yet to see any proof of the records. He added that Akbayan shouldn’t immediately fall for the said data just because it came from United Nations, which he pointed, had always provided him with wrong records before.

However, Claudio finds the statement “arrogant”.

“Our group has always practiced responsibility in analyzing data. Our activist background demands that we be discerning of information regardless of the source. We know when to respect and accept the truth and when to demolish outright lies,” the youth leader said.

“Unfortunately, Sen. Sotto can’t do the same. In the name of fake discernment, he refused to believe a fact backed by national and international scientific institutions. He must think he is the only credible source around. Such arrogance,” Claudio added.

On the other hand, the senator denied the claims of the two youth groups that he was anti-women because of his statement against the maternal deaths statistics.

He reiterated that he has established and created a Women and Children Crisis Center in Visayas and was planning to put up one in Luzon.

“Yung mga detractors ko, may nagawa na ba para sa kababaihan? My mother was one of the stalwarts of the Women’s Rights Movements. My grandfather is the author of old law allowing women to vote. They are messing with the wrong guy,” Sotto said.

The senator said the proposal of the two organizations to conduct a debate outside the Senate hall was “not flattering” to RH Bill’s supporters who have been defending the bill.

Meanwhile, Job de Leon, ADS President said in a separate statement released on Monday, “The ADS believes that Mr. Sotto should accept the offer issued by one of our alumni. If he’s confident in his ideas then he should be able to defend them.”

Senator Sotto was earlier noted for vehemently opposing the passage of The Reproductive Health Act of 2011 or otherwise known as Senate Bill No.2865.