Religion divides senatorial candidates on same-sex marriage issue

Aaron Lozada, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - For some senatorial aspirants, religion played a vital role in deciding whether to throw their support in same-sex marriage.

Former Interior Secretary Raffy Alunan admitted that his being raised as a Catholic was a factor in deciding whether to support the measure. But he clarified that he respects same-sex partnerships.

"I am a Catholic and I was brought up a Catholic. Marriage, as we were taught, is a sacrament between a man and a woman, but that's doctrine," Alunan told students attending The Rundown 2016: An ANC leadership forum at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday.

Alunan clarified that he respects same-sex partnerships because "love between two people, whether they are (of) the same sex or (of) the opposite sex, is something really between the two of them and that must be respected."

Former whistleblower Sandra Cam, on the other hand, maintained that as a Catholic, she is against same-sex marriage.

"I am against the same-sex marriage dahil puro po tayo Katoliko and a Christian country. Pero nirerespeto ko ang same-sex partnerships at nakikita ko po na hindi pa po tayo (handa). Masyadong bata ang ating bansa para ma-understand 'yung same-sex marriage," she stated.

Meanwhile, senatorial hopefuls Mark Lapid, Jericho Petilla, Dionisio Santiago and Martin Romualdez categorically showed their support for same-sex marriage.

"Ako po ay pabor sa same-sex marriage," said Lapid, former chief of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

"Tandaan po natin, hindi po natin pinag-uusapan ang religious right dito. Ang pinag-uusapan po natin, ang human rights po natin. Ang pantay-pantay na pagtingin, pantay-pantay na pananaw ng ating lipunan at ng ating gobyerno sa karapatan ng LGBT community," Lapid explained.

For Petilla, morality should be a non-issue in same-sex marriage.

"I am in favor of same-sex marriage. Pero, ang titingnan dito hindi dahil morality, or anything like that. 'Pag dalawang magkasama, same-sex nagsama, hindi mo mapipigilan ang pagmamahal nila," Petilla explained.

Santiago also expressed his support for same-sex marriage, stating that everybody has the right to be happy.

"I am in favor of same=sex marriage... Everybody has the right to be happy. And equal rights is human rights," said Santiago.

Romualdez, for his part, said that there must be a distinction between civil unions recognized by law.

"Oras na para magmalasakit tayo sa LGBT community," said Romualdez. "We have to distinguish between civil unions recognized by the law at andiyan po sa Family Code at 'yan po ay sa kapangyarihan po ng Senado at sa Congress. We should go ahead, let the debate begin and let's go and amend the law."