‘Catholic vote’ nothing but a ‘political myth,’ says Santiago
MANILA, Philippines – The so called “Catholic vote” is nothing but a “political myth,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Monday.
The Catholic church has been strongly opposed to the Reproductive Health bill fearing it would encourage abortion and promiscuity. The RH Bill is currently in the House of Representatives where its passage has been stalled due to lack of quorum.
Secretary Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, had said that the reason congressmen skipped the sessions was to avoid provoking Catholic priests who possess influence over church-goers.
“The elections are near. You don’t want to create enemies. In local politics, there is a Catholic vote, especially in areas where the clergy are very influential on their flock. If the clergy are popular, they have the pulpit. They can do it every Sunday,” Mamba had said.
However, Santiago said that even if the Catholic church uses its influence against certain politicians, it would not be successful.
“In the past, the Catholic church campaigned against Senator Juan Flavier because as health secretary, he freely distributed condoms. But Flavier won the elections. Thus, the so-called Catholic vote is a political myth,” Santiago said in a statement released Monday.
She also said that some Catholic priests were violating the constitutional principle of separation of church and state by threatening to punish congressmen who would vote in favor of the RH Bill.
She further said that the Catholic church is the only remaining religious sector that is against the RH Bill.
“Of all the major churches in the Philippines, only the Catholic Church is against RH. The rest are pro-RH, namely, Iglesia ni Cristo, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, and the Assembly of Darul-Iftah of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” she said.
Surveys have also showed that majority of Filipino are in favor of the RH Bill, she added.