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BACOLOD CITY, Philippines - It's a double whammy this week for survey leaders Team PNoy re-electionists Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero.
First, the United National Alliance (UNA) junked them as common candidates on Thursday.
Second, the diocese of Bacolod City urged voters not to choose Legarda, Escudero, and 5 other senatorial candidates for supporting the Reproductive Health law - a measure that the Catholic Church strongly opposed. They called them "Team Patay" or anti-life.
Legarda said she respects the decision of the Church but she will try to explain to voters why she voted in favor of the law.
"I made sure binasa ko ang batas at wala talagang provision on abortion. I'm against abortion," she told reporters in Negros Occidental. (I made sure to read the law and there is really no provision on abortion.)
"I respect the Church's position. I will make a call on the Church and see so we can also explain so people can decide who we can re-elect," Legarda added.
Angara: Don't focus on one issue
Out of the 7 candidates that the diocese wants voters to junk, 5 belong to President Aquino's Team PNoy. The RH bill was one of President's priority measures. On the last minute in December 2012, he also certified it as urgent to allow it to pass on time in the Senate.
Aside from Legarda and Escudero, the other candidates are former Akbayan Rep Risa Hontiveros, Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, and, Aurora Rep Sonny Angara,
UNA candidate Cagayan Rep Jack Enrile and independent candidate Bayan Muna Rep Teddy Casiño are part of the Team Patay list.
Angara said he respects the position of the Church but he lamented how he was junked based on a single issue. He stood by his vote in favor of the RH law and encouraged voters to look into candidates' track record.
"It saddens me because the CBCP has said that it will not judge a politician based on a single issue. The Church hierarchy said they will look at the track record of the politician. I believe there are other important issues. A candidate should be judged based on his track record and dedication to serve," he told reporters on the sidelines of Team PNoy' campaign rally in Bacolod City on Friday.
"I voted for the RH law because I believe that we should improve the quality of people's lives. If we didn't pass the RH law, the women will suffer," Angara added.
Hontiveros said she is part of "Team Quality ng Buhay."
"Pro-RH is pro-life. The diocese should not fan the embers of division. I am disappointed over its foray into politics and hopefully this does not indicate disrespect for our Constitution. I wouldn't be surprised if there would be more statements, but they would not deter me. I believe I will win in Bacolod," Hontiveros told Rappler.
The diocese also asked Negreses to support the candidacies of Sen Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former Las Pinas Rep Cynthia Villar, Sen Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, San Juan Rep Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito-Estrada, and Zambales Rep Mitos Magsaysay.
"Senator Villar and I are pro-life. Of course any support is welcome in this campaign. I thank the Diocese of Bacolod. I didn't vote but my husband voted against the RH bill," Villar said during Team PNoy's Bacolod campaign rally.
But Villar herself said it's hard to estimate how it will boost her campaign. She said she recognizes that many Catholics also supported the RH law.
Drilon: RH law is a balanced law
Team PNoy campaign manager Sen Franklin Drilon said he is saddened by the move of the Diocese of Bacolod City.
"We will continue to convince the people of Bacolod and Negros Occidental that the President deserves the full support of the people in order that we can continue the reforms started by the President that benefitted by the country," he told reporters.
Drilon maintained that "the RH law is a balanced law." He said even RH law critic Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III told him that he finds no basis to question the constitutionality of the law.
"RH law is a balanced law. It is something that we are not ashamed of and proud of having," Drilon added. - Rappler.com
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