MANILA — Vice presidential aspirant Walden Bello enumerated Tuesday the measures that he will pursue together with labor leader Leody De Guzman if elected in the 2022 polls.
This, after the tandem said majority of their Cabinet, if ever, would be women, including former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, as well as members of the LGBT community,
During the Pandesdal Forum held via Zoom, Bello said they have consulted the following measures with the two sectors that seek to fight for their rights.
- enforcement of Reproductive Health Act
- legalization of divorce
- reducing the gap between wages of men and women
- decriminalize abortion
- passage of the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill
“Our agenda in this area is formulated by our LGBT and women sectors. It is not something that we’re just talking about right now. It is something that has come to the forefront in the discussions in the forging of our program,” Bello told reporters.
He said one of their proposed measures to reduce violence against women and the LGBT community is to criminalize hate speech against the said groups.
“You cannot joke about rape, because that encourages the crime if it is seen as something that is just something that you can joke about like President [Rodrigo] Duterte has. That’s why I would push for a law that would classify such talk as hate speech and therefore criminally liable because it has consequences. We’ve seen that kind of talk has consequences,” he said.
The scholar who was a former member of the House of Representatives said it is time to move forward and push for such reforms that would help a large sector of the country exercise their rights.
“With divorce and decriminalization of abortion, we need to come to the 21st century. We can’t be a country that is stuck in the 17th century. 'Yung (our) cultural program namin, yes, it going to be controversial but it’s something that is already supported by a large sector of the population,” Bello said.
“Nakita naman natin doon sa (we saw before with the) Reproductive Health Act, it was just the Catholic bishops that were opposing it. When it was passed, it was cheered by the rest of the country. Mahalaga talaga ‘yung area na ‘yan (That area is really important). The agenda that we bring to that area is extremely important,” he added.
“It’s going to be an uphill struggle. And sense ko lang is, you have to be able to navigate ‘yung legislative process. And nakita naman natin sa laban doon sa RH Act, that if you have a smart legislative strategy, whether it’s on divorce or the [SOGIE] Equality Bill or on same-sex marriage, you have to build coalitions."
“I have been part of coalition building and this was an uphill struggle. But we were able to do it with the leadership of the people like Congressman [Edcel] Lagman and others. ‘Yung alliance that we were able to forge and bring the majority of Congress to support, that was the product of years of legislative coalition building. And that’s what is going to be very important,” shared Bello.
He said it is vital to amplify the voices of women and the LGBT sector in order to address their concerns during the legislation process.
“Beyond that, napakahalaga na dadalhin namin ‘yung boses ng mga tao (it is important to amplify the voice of the people) … We need to mobilize the people. We need to mobilize the various sectors, the women sector, the LGBT sector around these measures kasi mahalaga ‘yan na (because that is important) … just like with other things like with the land reform, with extensions law, you have to mobilize farmers to knock on the doors of Congress or the Senate,” he said.
“If we win the support and the imagination of the people or the different sectors, we can do it. It’s not going to be easy but nothing is ever easy. Kailangan na kailangan na natin ‘tong (We really need this) cultural transformation natin in these areas. And we should no longer be hostages by backward forces of darkness.”
Bello is currently an adjunct professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, according to Laban Ng Masa.
He is among nearly 30 vice presidential aspirants next year, that also include Dr. Willie Ong, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, and senators Kiko Pangilinan, Tito Sotto, and Bong Go. The list will be trimmed in the coming months to remove those found to be nuisance candidates.
The official campaign period for national position candidates for the May 9, 2022 elections will start only on Feb. 8, 2022.