Following the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s pronouncements that they will make a list of anti-reproductive health (RH) bill candidates that they will support for the coming 2013 elections, a group of women working in grassroots communities welcomed the move saying that it will even help them know the candidates to reject and not vote for.
The Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), a national federation of 264 community women’s organizations with 40,000 members chaired by Elizabeth Angsioco is not threatened by this announcement and in fact, fully supports it.
She added, “the move is good for RH champions as non-inclusion in the bishops’ list means that they favor saving mothers from dying and adolescent girls from untimely pregnancies.”
“The bishops will make our work easier. Inclusion in their list is a guarantee that a candidate is anti-RH. For women, especially those in poor communities such as our members, being anti-RH is being anti-women and anti-poor. With the bishops’ list, we will no longer need to do further research on included candidates. We will simply campaign against and NOT vote for them”, Angsioco stressed.
However, Angsioco explained, that such move is just an empty threat from the bishops because it has been proven from past elections that the Catholic block vote is at best, a myth.
Angsioco recalls that the Catholic church openly went against former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Erap Estrada, as well as former Senator Juan Flavier but all of them won the elections.
She added, “Even at the local level, priests went against champions of the RH bill but virtually all of those re-electionists won. In contrast, during the 2010 elections, anti-RH candidates at the national level who said that they had the bishops’ support, lost, and lost miserably. The Catholic church has never proven that it has a block vote unlike the Iglesia ni Cristo.”
Angsioco explained further that all credible surveys done through a number of years by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia have ALL proven that the Filipino people overwhelmingly support a government-funded family planning program as well as the passage of the RH bill. “Even Catholics support these because 81% to 94% of total respondents of these surveys identified themselves as Catholic. The fact is, it is only the Roman Catholic hierarchy and those closely allied to it that are rabidly against the RH bill,” Angsioco ended.