[PHOTO -Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. console Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III after he became emotional while delivering his Turno en Contra on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill during session, Monday, August 13, 2012. Sotto was in tears as he told the story of his first-born son who died five months after birth. PHOTO BY JOSEPH VIDAL]

MANILA, AUGUST 15, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Cathy Yamsuan - From fighting words to a tearful confession.

After a lengthy attack on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto on Monday dissolved into tears, explaining that his stand against the measure was both “professional and personal.”

The senator, who has been receiving a steady stream of brickbats in social networking sites for his position against the RH bill, broke down when he recalled the death of his five-month-old son who, he claimed, was conceived even while his wife was taking birth control pills.

Monday was his son’s 37th death anniversary, Sotto said of Vincent Paul who was born on March 13, 1975, with a weak heart that required him to undergo daily blood transfusions.

His voice breaking, Sotto recalled that after their firstborn Romina was born in 1973, a doctor friend suggested that his wife Helen take contraceptives so she could resume her show-biz career.

“A few months after Romina was born, Helen got pregnant again even while taking pills,” Sotto recounted. Born with a weak heart, his son never left the hospital where he subsequently died five months later, the senator said.

Sotto also recounted how his fellow senators, Lito Lapid and RH bill principal sponsor Pia Cayetano, had mourned the early deaths of their own children. Lapid’s son, Sotto said, was a blue baby who died when he was nine. Cayetano’s son, Gabriel Sebastian, also suffered congenital problems and lived for only nine months.

“My fellow senators have their sad stories, but I still think they are blessed because they were able to hold and embrace their children. I could only watch my son through the glass. I never got to hold him,” Sotto sobbed.

He said that a doctor later told him and Helen that their son had suffered complications because of the pills his wife had taken.

Sotto said he had initially questioned why God took his son so soon.

“But now I realize it happened because I have a job to do—to warn people about the dangers of contraceptives. That is my mission now,” he said.

Sotto said people always thought that he and his wife Helen had only four children: Romina, Diorela, Gian and Ciara.

“Actually we have six. Helen and I consider Sharon (Cuneta) our firstborn since we eloped in 1969. That’s why I call (Sen. Francis) Kiko (Pangilinan) my son-in-law,” he said.

Sharon Cuneta is actually Helen Sotto’s niece, being the daughter of the latter’s sister, Elaine.

After the emotional scene at the Senate, Cayetano opted to defer her response to Sotto’s speech.


Sotto denies making up story on son's death By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 08/15/2012 6:43 PM | Updated as of 08/15/2012 8:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Wednesday fired back at his critics, calling them "callous" and "insensitive" for questioning his claim that his son died due to side effects of contraceptives.

Sotto singled out former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Iloilo Rep. Janet Garin for questioning his earlier statement that his wife's contraceptive use caused their son's heart condition, which later killed him.

"I would like to take exception to statements made by Esperanza Cabral, former secretary of health during the time of Gloria Arroyo, and to a certain extent Congresswoman Janet Garin," he said.

"I find their statements callous and insensitive and it is unfortunate that the reproductive health debate has come to this level. They should have given the sorrow of my family more respect," he added.

Cabral earlier dared Sotto to produce his son's death certificate and hospital records to show the actual cause of death of the 5-month-old baby.

She noted that Dr. Carmen Enverga-Santos, obstetrician of Sotto's wife Helen Gamboa, is already dead and cannot confirm or belie Sotto's claim.

Garin, meanwhile, said Sotto should consider suing the doctor for the mental anguish she caused by linking contraceptives to Vincent Paul's death. She said Sotto's wife might not have been taking birth control pills under doctor's supervision.

On Thursday, Sotto produced his son's death certificate, saying he will give copies to advocates of the Reproductive Health Bill.

"Bibigyan ko sila ng kopya. Baka akala nila di ko papatulan," he said.

He also said his wife used Diane Birth control pills under the supervision of Dr. Santos.

"She was supervised by her doctor while using it. Intelihente naman po yung asawa ko. Alam niya kung paano gumamit nito," he said.

Sotto said even his own mother, Dr. Herminia Castelo-Sotto, agreed that Vincent Paul's heart condition was linked to Gamboa's contraceptive use. He noted his mother was a staunch women's rights activist and the first Medical Commissioner of Workmen's Compensation Commission of the Department of Labor and Employment.

"Ayon sa kanila (Sotto and Santos), ang pagbubuntis ng aking maybahay na si Helen kahit may contraceptives at gagamit ng contraceptives ay maaaring naging sanhi ng complication, prematurity at eventually pagkamatay ng anak namin. Bakit ko iimbentuhin ang katotohanang ito?" he said.

Contraceptives are abortifacients

Sotto reiterated that contraceptives are abortifacients and pose serious health risks to women and children born to mothers who use contraceptives but still get pregnant.

He challenged his critics to answer him point by point instead of attacking his character via posts on Facebook and Twitter.

"May mga nananakot pa. Kung sa mga drug lords hindi ako natakot, sa kanila pa," he said.

The senator said he does not intend to call for a complete ban on contraceptives nor does he intend to stop people from using contraceptives. However, he said it is his duty as a lawmaker to study the implications of the Reproductive Health bill on all Filipinos.

He said the book "The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth," by Barbara Seaman, shows the serious side effects of estrogen use. He said the book showed that in a cohort of 50,282 preganancies, 19 children with cardiovascular defects were born to 1,042 women who received female hormones during their pregnancy.

"I don't need to be a doctor to know the possible complications on children from women who take birth control pills but still get pregnant," he said.


'Misinformed' Sotto should sue his doctor: Garin By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 08/14/2012 11:01 AM | Updated as of 08/14/2012 4:40 PM

[PHOTO - Congresswoman Janette L. Garin is the District Representative of the First District of Iloilo and currently serves as the Senior Deputy Majority Leader in the Philippine House of Representatives.]

MANILA, Philippines - One of the authors of the Reproductive Health Bill said Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III should sue his wife's doctor for linking contraceptives to the death of his firstborn son.

Iloilo Rep. Janet Garin said she sympathizes with Sotto over the death of his son, Vincent Paul, but noted that the senator was misinformed about the cause of his son's heart condition.

"I sympathize with the death of his son 37 years ago but hearing him say that he was told by his doctor that the cause of heart disease was the intake of pills, I would strongly suggest that he sue his doctor for all this mental anguish they have been suffering because it is definitely not true," she told ANC's Headstart.

Sotto earlier said his campaign to block the passage of the RH Bill was a personal mission after his son, Vincent Paul, died due to alleged side effects of contraceptives. The senator said his son died due to a weak heart condition.

He said his wife's doctor could find no cause for his son's heart condition except that his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, took contraceptives.

"The Makati Medical Center said he died because my wife used contraceptives. Even her doctor admits to the fact, Dra. Enderga Santos," he said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, meanwhile, sympathized with Sotto but said there is no evdience that shows a link between contraceptive use and heart conditions of children.

She also noted that contraceptives are supposed to be used with doctors' advice, and not just given out.

Garin, who is a medical doctor, disputed Sotto's statement that condoms pose health risks and that contraceptives are carcinogenic.

She said contraceptive pills are made out of a combination of estrogen and progesterone, which takes out side effects.

In the case of Gamboa, Garin said it is possible that the actress was not taking the pills correctly.

"She might not be taking it daily or not taking it correctly on when it should be taken. (If you miss a pill), there's a possibility you might get pregnant," she said.

The congresswoman said Sotto's statement actually shows the need to pass the Reproductive Health Bill or the Responsible Parenthood Bill to teach the people how to use contraceptives.

"This is where the problem is, we have respectable people like Sen. Sotto misinforming the public.....with the misinformation, many lives are being sacrified, many people are put into danger because of this misinformation," she said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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