MANILA, Philippines - The looming victory of local and national candidates who supported the Reproductive Health (RH) law only showed there is no Catholic vote, the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) said yesterday.
“The victory of the pro-RH candidates in the recently concluded elections is an affirmation that leaders of the Roman Catholic Church cannot dictate the results of the elections,” PLCPD executive director Rom Dongeto said.
“There is no Catholic vote and no black propaganda of the church can steal victory from candidates who advocate reproductive health,” he added.
PLCPD said data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) partial tally showed 94 percent of more than a hundred pro-RH reelectionists are seen winning in their respective districts and party-list system.
“Six of the seven senatorial candidates endorsed by the Purple Vote, a movement launched by pro-RH groups, are not just winning but are actually front runners in the senatorial race: Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Sonny Angara and Bam Aquino,” Dongeto said.
The lawmakers who voted in favor of the RH law included Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Batanes Rep. Dina Abad, Bolet Banal (3rd District, Quezon City), Kimmy Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan), Jaye Lacson-Noel (Lone District, Malabon City), Sandy Ocampo (6th District, Manila), Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), and Imelda Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte).
“The candidates at the local level faced excruciating campaign as their respective pastoral localities vocally campaigned against them,” Dongeto said.
“As we face a different form of struggle for the RH law at the Supreme Court and in Congress where there are threats of having the law repealed, we are counting on the support of these pro-RH legislators to help us through the arduous road ahead, which should lead to the unperturbed implementation of the RH law,” Dongeto said.
An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, pointed out the emergence of anti-RH advocates in the Magic 12 senatorial candidates.
CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro said out of the 10 senatorial candidates endorsed by the White Vote Movement (WVM), those who made it to the Magic 12 were Senators Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, and neophyte Nancy Binay.
The WVM is a gathering of lay Catholic groups that include El Shaddai.
Apart from the 10 WVM selected candidates, the El Shaddai also endorsed two other candidates, Paolo “Bam” Benigno Aquino IV and former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. but only Aquino made it to the Top 12.
Castro said the endorsement made by WVM was a sign that the Catholic vote worked in the elections.
Castro admitted the election results do not necessarily display a “solid” Catholic vote. He said the people should look beyond the 2013 elections.
“I think this should be sustained until 2016. Obviously the Filipinos are still person-oriented but I think that slowly we are going there and be issue-oriented, especially on the issue of family and life,” Castro said.
Castro believed the traditional media, not the social networking sites, played a crucial role in the campaign of a candidate. – Evelyn Macairan