Sonny Angara: Stop 'hate campaign'
MANILA, Philippines -- Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile on Saturday said he is not afraid of being tagged as a "Team Patay" senatorial candidate for voting yes to a bill that supports women's rights.
Enrile said he stands by his vote despite the Diocese of Bacolod's calls for voters to junk senatorial bets deemed as "anti-life" due to their support for the reproductive health (RH) law.
"If I earned the ire of the Catholic Church by voting yes to a bill that will now give women the right to decide for themselves, then so be it. I stand by my vote," he said in a press statement.
"I stand by my vote and am proud of it. It was a vote of my conscience," Enrile added.
The son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile claimed it is not the RH law that kills but hunger, noting that 20 million Filipinos suffer from starvation every day. Of these 20 million, women and children are the most vulnerable, he said.
Enrile, a member of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate, added that about 11 to 15 mothers die every day due to maternity-related causes.
"The reproductive health [law] empowers women to decide what is best for herself and her family... How many more mothers will die while giving life because they do not have access to even the most basic of reproductive health services?" he said.
Meanwhile, senatorial candidate Edgardo "Sonny" Angara on Friday also lamented on the "hate campaign" being launched against pro-RH law candidates.
Angara, in a press statement, said the diocese seems to have ignored the statement made by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the RH issue in the May elections.
"Ako ay nalulungkot na napasama ako diyan sapagkat just 2 weeks ago sinabi ng CBCP na hindi sila mangangampanya on the basis of the RH vote. Ang titingnan daw nila ay ang kabuuan ng isang kandidato at hindi lamang ang RH issue," he said.
Angara said that while he respects the diocese's "Team Buhay" and "Team Patay" campaign as freedom of expression, it is not proper to demean those who espoused for the law.
"Hindi wastong sabihin na kami ay ang 'Team Patay.' Kaya nga po namin pinaglaban ang naturang panukalang batas ay dahil nais naming maitaas ang antas ng buhay ng mga Pilipino," he said.
'Anti-life' tag disappointing, says Hontiveros
Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, an author of the RH law, on Friday said she was not surprised that she was included in the “Team Patay” list, but still expressed dismay at the diocese's decision to campaign against pro-RH politicians.
“I expect that they will not support my candidacy, but I think it is unreasonable to believe that Catholic voters will junk pro-RH candidates," she said in a statement.
“We may have different opinions on the RH law but...we have debated extensively on these issues and the law has already been passed. For the diocese leadership to foray into politics is extremely disappointing, and I hope that this does not indicate a disrespect for our constitutional process," she added.
Still, Hontiveros said she believes the diocese's "Team Patay" campaign against her will not impair her chances of winning in the May senatorial polls, noting that majority of Catholics are pro-RH.
“I will, however, not be deterred. Even if the Diocese of Bacolod is less welcoming, I think we have good chances in Bacolod and in the whole province,” she said.
Hontiveros, who is running under the Liberal Party-led coalition Team PNoy, also asserted that RH law respects life.
“Ang suporta sa RH law ay pagsuporta sa buhay. The RH law gives us a tool to eliminate maternal deaths and to significantly reduce cases of unwanted pregnancy which is the driver of abortion. Hindi ba 'yan ang tunay na ibig sabihin ng pro-life?”
Enrile, Angara, Hontiveros, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño from Makabayan, and Senators Francis "Chiz" Escudero, Loren Legarda and Alan Peter Cayetano were included on the list which the diocese dubbed as "Team Patay" senatorial aspirants.
The diocese, meanwhile, urged voters to support "Team Buhay" candidates Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Koko Pimentel III, former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Gringo Honasan, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, and Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay.
Legarda, for her part, has clarified that the RH law is not in favor of abortion.
Cynthia Villar, meanwhile, also respects the church's opinion and said they are entitled to it.
Drilon said they are saddened by the move of the Bacolod diocese. He also insists that the RH law is a balanced law. -- With a report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News