MANILA, Philippines – Comedian-turned-senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto broke down on the senate floor on Monday when he delivered his speech against the Reproductive Health Bill admitting that his stance was not without personal bias.
Sotto revealed that he had an offspring who died due to complications which he believes arose from his wife, the actress Helen Gamboa-Sotto, having used birth control pills.
His voice cracking, Sotto recalled that it was a doctor friend who suggested that his wife take contraceptives so she could continue with her showbiz career.
"Helen got pregnant again even while taking pills,” Sotto recounted.
Born with a weak heart, the child, a boy, he said, never left the hospital subsequently dying only five months later.
He went on to relate that Monday was supposed to be his son’s 37th death anniversary.
Sotto said he had initially questioned why his son was taken 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 he never made public the incident prior and that he simply let people believe that he and his wife Helen had only four children, namely 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 (Senator Francis) Kiko (Pangilinan) my son-in-law,” he said.
Cuneta is the daughter of his wife’s sister, Elaine with former Pasay City mayor Pablo Cuneta.
A Similar Fate
During his speech, Sotto cited that each of his fellow senators, actor Lito Lapid and RH bill principal sponsor Pia Cayetano, knows how it feels to lose a child. Lapid’s son, Sotto said, was a blue baby who died when he was nine. Cayetano’s son, he said, 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 said sobbing.
In the end, RH Bill principal sponsor, Cayetano opted to defer her response to the speech.
ANC Alerts reported, however, that Cayetano disagreed with most of the points Sotto raised in his speech allegedly saying that "many of the data he mentioned are either inaccurate or outdated."
Actress and prolific pole dancer Ciara Sotto, who was on the senate floor to show support for his father, admitted to getting emotional hearing his speech.
"Of all places!!!! I never thought I'd shed tears in the senate," she posted via Twitter.
She also revealed that to this day, her mother is wont to visit a nursery owing to the tragedy.
Sotto became defensive after several netizens took to criticizing his father's stance over the controversial bill.
“My parents experienced losing a child. Bashers/haters can't change that fact. Sana it won't happen to any of you,” she said.
The actress expressed her dismay towards several users of the site.
“[D]aming bastos sa Twitter grabe! Ang lilinis eh... Hiyang hiya naman ako sa kalinisan nila! Kawawa naman daddy ko,” she said.
After another user asked her to not involve herself in the issue, Sotto bravely said, "No, I will not shut up when it comes to my family. I hope one day, if u have ur own child, he/she will b proud enough to stand up for u."