Sotto admits exposé a 'veiled' attack on RH bill

Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Wednesday admitted that his exposé on the alleged corruption of family health funds was a "veiled" attack on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, which he opposes.

"Obvious ba, eh anti-RH bill ako eh (Isn't it obvious? I'm anti-RH)," Sotto told GMA News Online in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, RH advocate and former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Sotto's exposé on the alleged corruption in family health funds may be part of a preemptive attack against the RH program.

"I was hoping that my exposé was just a veiled attack on the bill (but) if she wants me to remove the veil, then I will. And I will dig my foxhole and let's see who wins the battle in the Senate," Sotto said.

He explained that he was hoping to use the newly discovered anomaly to prove that approving the RH bill will only bring more problems. "This is the (same) budget they will use for the RH bill."

The senator, however, said he does not intend to discredit the Department of Health with his exposé, saying that it was even the agency's offciails who gave him proof on the alleged anomaly in the health fund allocation.

"Walang personalan ito... kailangan may magpaliwanag kailangang may managot (This is not personal. But someone has to explain and someone has to take responsibility)," he said.

"With due respect to the former secretary, I am doing my job as a legislator. Kung mapatunayan namin na may anomalya (If I can prove that there really is an anomaly), will she standby her statements? She's just very touchy about it because of the RH bill," he added.

Sotto likewise said he can't accept the explanation that areas like Ilocos Norte, Batangas, and Quezon - which he described as first class provinces - did not receive funding because they were not qualified for the grant.

He said the Senate finance committee will probably be the one to conduct an inquiry on the matter because it is in charge of funding.

At the House of Representatives, the RH bill is being discussed in the plenary and awaiting approval on second reading.

On the other hand, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's Senate Bill 2378 or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development is still pending before the Senate health committee. — RSJ, GMA News