Bishop: No CBCP call for anti-RH vote

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2012 07:09 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2012 12:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo denies the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called for a Catholic vote against politicians backing the Reproductive Health Bill.

"Hindi napag-usapan iyan. Di ko alam saan nanggaling. Baka private opinion ng isang tao," Pabillo told ABS-CBN News.

However, he indicated that it is the Palace that is moving for the bill.

He said he heard that President Aquino has called congressmen to a meeting about the RH Bill. He said he hopes lawmakers will make the RH Bill a conscience vote.

"Narinig ko pinatawag ng Presidente ang mga congressman sa Malacañang. Sa RH din iyan. Meron din lobby sa likod," he said.

He said he is unaware if the anti-RH congressmen have the numbers to defeat the bill.

Pabillo said the CBCP isn't urging the public not to vote politicians who support the RH bill. He said the CBCP also wants Catholics not to vote for candidates who do not care for the environment, who promote political dynasties or fail to curb corruption.

The prelate said these are qualities that should be present in all politicians.

Pabillo said that relative to the 2013 elections, the CBCP has not yet made any specific calls except to ask voters to pick candidates who are "maka-Diyos, makatao, makabuhay, makakalikasan."

He said the Church only wants to educate voters instead of making endorsements.

No such thing as Catholic vote

Pabillo also doubted reports that some politicians are afraid of a backlash from priests for backing the RH Bill.

He asked that the public be more discerning for politicians to be honest if the RH Bill is a product of a foreign lobby and not the bill for women's health that its proponents claim it is.

UP political analyst Prospero de Vera also dismissed fears about a possible bloc vote by the Catholic Church against politicians who back the RH Bill. De Vera said this has always been a threat but it never really had any strong effect.

De Vera notes that the Church campaigned heavily against Sen. Juan Flavier in 1995 and 2001 yet he still won and placed well within the winners' circle.

"Walang statistika o pag-aaral na nagpapakita na may direct correlation sa pag-atake at pagbawas ng boto. Malinaw na ang basbas ng Simbahang Katolika di nakadagdag sa boto mo, di tulad ng ibang religious groups tulad ng [Iglesia ni Cristo]. Walang kakayahan yung Simbahang Katolika na dagdgan ang boto. May posibilidad mabawasan boto mo pero di ito nakikita sa lokal na lebel," he said.

De Vera said it is normal for politicians to be afraid of a backlash since politicians live by the dictum that politics is addition.

"Anything that reduces votes is really uncomfortable," he said.