fudging the facts: sotto’s anti-RH sob story

nakakaiyak naman talaga ang mawalan ng anak.  lalo na kung sanggol, lalo na kung ni hindi mo nahipo o nahawakan o nayakap.  masuwerte pa nga these days ang mga magulang na maysakit ang sanggol mula sa kapanganakan.  hospital nurseries are kinder, allow the parents (in sterile gowns) to touch and even hold their baby, the mother to breastfeed even, and the baby does not have to die without feeling some love, kahit kaunti, kahit paano.

but but but, the senator fudges the facts when he attributes the infant’s birth defect and short lifespan on the contraceptive pills helen was taking at the time she conceived.

makati medical center could prove to the fact na wala silang makita na dahilan na nagkaganoon ang bata kundi dahil nagkocontraceptives yung asawa ko. nabuntis pa rin kahit gumagamit ng contraceptives, that’s why i know. hindi trabaho ito sa akin, personalan ito. …. sabi ng makati medical center namatay dahil sa paggamit ng misis ko ng contraceptives. even her doctor admits to that fact. dra. enverga santos. he was born and died with a weak heart.

methinks the senator is being cavalier with the truth, or what’s fact and what’s not (i wonder what else he might be lying about).  i doubt very strongly that dr. carmen enverga-santos ever admitted to such a thing.  she was my mother’s obstetrician who delivered me in 1949 (she and my parents were friends in medical school), and later she was my ob-gynecologist, too, and my aunts’ and sisters’ and cousins’ and a niece’s, from the 1950s through the ’90s until she retired.  we were all spacing our kids using birth control pills she started prescribing in the ’60s, and none of us had any problems whatsoever.  if she knew there was any danger from the pill, would she have continued to prescribe it for us after helen’s case?

enverga-santos was a highly respected ob-gyn in her time.  i cannot imagine her, or any credible ob-gyn, or the makati medical center, “admitting to the fact” that the cause of the birth defect and death was, unequivocally and categorically, the birth control pills.  the Pill, since its approval by the FDA in may 1960, is “among one of the most carefully studied medications in U.S. history.”  any such danger, any clinically proven connection between the pill and birth defects, would have immediately brought about its absolute withdrawal from the market by the FDA.  read Common Pill Myths.

shared sotto’s sob story with my doctor brother butch and this is what he had to say:

It’s a bit of a stretch, blaming the pills for that. Any details on how long she continued on the pills after conception? Were there problems with other pregnancies? Any medical conditions the mother was being treated for? Too many other causes of birth problems: infections, drugs, smoking, alcohol, etc. When did Enverga give that opinion?

And we always want to point at something recognizable, always looking for answers, but often, it’s unanswerable, buried deep down in the weird complexities of life, the fears, paranoias, dys-emotions that rule some lives, that eventually manifest themselves as physical maladies and defects.

Here’s more on the subject from Mayo Clinic and from the Honor Society of Nursing.

shared sotto’s sob story, too, with my nurse sister nancy, convent bred but pro-RH, who was also under the care of enverga-santos through 3 pregnancies and deliveries:

it was also the good doctor who prescribed the birth control pills i took after giving birth to our first child in 1965. the same birth control pills allowed me to properly space my next 2 pregnancies.

combined (estrogen/progestin) oral contraceptive pills are highly effective when taken religiously at the same hour each day. if one or more tablets are forgotten for more than 12 hours, contraceptive protection is reduced. the rate of effectiveness of birth control pills is dependent on how consistently and correctly it is taken. not to belabor the issue, pero malamang di tama ang inom ni helen.

in a tv interview soon after his tearjerker of a speech, the senator admitted that the real bottom line for him is that he is against the so many billions that will be spent on pills and condoms to be given away for free, money that, all anti-RH people say, the government doesn’t have or, if it can be had, could be used for more urgent needs.  here’s the response to that of Mulat Pinoy, a population awareness initiative supported by the Probe Media Foundation, Inc. and the Philippine Center for Population and Development:

Investing in family planning services will save several billion pesos, which can be used for critical social services.

The latest US and Philippine research show that governments annually spend a minimum of Php 5.5 billion in healthcare costs to address unintended pregnancies and their complications.

By contrast, only Php 2.0-3.5 billion annually is needed to fund a comprehensive range of voluntary family planning services for the entire country, which also results in a more sustainable population to provide for.

so there.  pass the RH bill, now na!  and let’s not vote ever again for, let’s campaign vigorously against, any and all legislators (or their wives husbands brothers sisters sons daughters nieces nephews) who say no to reproductive health.  they can found their own churches instead and still get rich, like brother mike, praise the lord.


  1. Great post! Thanks for linking to Mulat Pinoy! In the run up to the 2010 elections we at Mulat Pinoy held a series of fora with candidates during which an Ang Kapatiran Candidate told the exact same sob story as Senator Sotto. I can’t tell if anti-RH advocates genuinely believe their own stories. I’d like to think they’re just severely misinformed and not actually exploiting/inventing personal tragedies to serve their agenda.

  2. just to add to your story angela, if she believed that birth control had dangerous effects, she should have stopped prescribing them, and advocated for them to be tossed out of the market.

    the fact that, as a doc, she continued to support these meds shows that sotto isnt completely straight.

  3. manuelbuencamino

    Considering the reputation of Sotto as a ladies man, I’m surprised he has no other chilfren apart from the ones with his wife. I wonder what sort of natural birth control method he used with them. withdrawal, femoral intercourse, or what?

    • joji-Diehard Pinoy

      angie@, “READ MY LIPS, ITS THE ECONOMY”, SO Clinton has warned. In my view, as long as there is unequal distribution of wealth generated in the economy as measured by GNP, no amount of family planning program as envisioned in the RH bill will help the economy reach that “demographic sweet spot”. Why do China, India and even Indonesia despite the pressure of over population are experiencing economic growth and development? On the contrary a demographic transition of zero growth is being lamented by an aging workforce in Japan, Germany and other European nations. I cannot cannot accept the position of our Western trained economic experts supporting such policy if they do not address the basic need of struggling poor and near poor deprive of well paid jobs and benefits seeking equal opportunities for social advancement thru health and educational services.

      • joji-Diehard Pinoy

        btw, if my memory serves me right even Mama Gloria proudly told us that when I and my twin-mate, Marie, were born in 1949 at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dr. Enverga-Santos was her attending ob-gyn..

      • joji-Diehard Pinoy

        ..tingnan nalang natin ang widening gap between the rich and the under privileged poor. Why is the standard of living among the upper and above middle class are improving while the rest of us middle class and the marginal poor are stagnant. Sabi nga ng mga marketing experts, a developed economy will greatly benefit from a large consumer community, provided they have they have the exra income over and above their savings. Hence, low labor cost and the lack of job opportunity and social mobility are the economic and not the demographic factors constricting the take-off of our GNP growth

  4. I wanaa focus on the substantive issue raised by sotto:

    are contraceptive pills dangerous to women and their kids? if YES, why support govt funding to allow the poor to access them?

    the blogger, pope, says the answer is YES. this is the first time i’ve heard these arguments. i don’t know if these findings are true, but if they are, this gives me pause.

    if anything, i want the national debate to confront these valid concerns head on.

    • manuelbuencamino


      Matagal ng natapos ang debate on the safety of contraceptive pills. Yes it has side-effects, like many other medicines. Yes there are risks, like many other medicines. Matagal ng alam yan valid concerns na yan ng maraming tao, ng mga scientists, doctors, gobyerno atbp. That’s why it is sold on prescription and not over the counter. Yan ang solusyon para maminimize, kung di man pwedeng ma-eliminate, ang side effects at risks sa indibidwal na gumagamit. On balance, ang napagkasunduan ay the positives outweigh the negatives so party on!

  5. manuelbuencamino

    I guess we can describe Sotto’s plagiarism like Gloria Arroyo’s spokesman Mike Defensor once did Gloria’s voice on the Garci tapes, “It’s his voice but he was not doing the talking.”

  6. Religion should be out of this & never be involved with the Government. A separation of church and state. CHRISTIANITY is not the only religion of the Philippine Republic. Do we need another Jose Rizal to slap reality to each & everyone of us.