There may not be a Catholic vote but there is a “Catholic effort.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday reminded reproductive health advocates who say there is no such thing as a Catholic vote that it was Jaime Cardinal Sin’s call to the faithful that brought the people out to Edsa in droves against Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
“What brought about Edsa? Who were the people who went there to bring down an administration? Didn’t Cardinal Sin call on the faithful who went to Edsa to bring down [Marcos]? You have forgotten that event?” Enrile said at Thursday’s Kapihan sa Senado news forum.
“That should be food for thought for anybody who claims that there is no Catholic vote. But there is such a thing as a Catholic effort if it becomes necessary,” he said.
“You can just imagine what will happen if the bishops link their arms with nuns and priests and a crowd to march in the streets and push their position on this particular issue. Do you think any policeman or soldier would be crazy to raise his guns against these people?” Enrile said.
“Don’t ever think that this issue is that simple. We must use our heads because this is a very explosive issue,” he added.
Ironically, Enrile said he would still vote against the reproductive health (RH) bill even if all his 17 amendments to the measure were adopted.
“I’m not a hypocrite. I speak out according to my best assessment of what is good for the country. My vote is against the reproductive health bill … even if they accept my proposals,” he said.
Asked why he was proposing amendments when he was against the measure, Enrile said: “Just to show them that we are not delaying it and we want to refine it.”
“And to tell you the truth, my purpose in proposing some of my amendments is to show to the people that this bill is not really all for the health of women. It’s camouflaged as a health bill but its real purpose is to contract the population,” he said.
On the possibility his anti-RH bill stance would adversely affect the senatorial bid of his son, Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile, next year, he said: “If my son should lose because of that issue, then so be it.”
“Even my life I will put at stake for something I believe in,” he added.
Enrile doubted the Senate would be able to vote on the RH bill before Christmas.
“How can they do that? We have not finished the process. Each one of us has a right to present our amendments,” he said.
Enrile recalled that one senator had reserved the right to interpellate proponents of the bill creating a new province from Camarines Sur (CamSur), and then went abroad for a good period of time. Up to now, Enrile said, the CamSur bill is pending in the upper chamber.
“If they respect that senator, why can’t they wait for us on a very major issue?” he said.
Told of the pro-RH senators’ supposed plan to move for a vote on terminating the period of amendment, Enrile said: “That is cloture. Senator [Pia] Cayetano is only one senator. She cannot impose her will on the Senate.”
Cloture is a procedure by which a Senate debate on a measure is ended and put to an immediate vote.