MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has been asked to end its “Team Buhay and Team Patay” campaign.
A letter by several groups led by the Akbayan partylist to CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma denounced the “Team Buhay” and “Team Patay” posters put up in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral by the Diocese of Bacolod.
The posters identified senatorial candidates and partylist organizations who voted for and against the recently enacted Reproductive Health (RH) Law.
Akbayan partylist leader Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio said in the letter that the church’s decision “to campaign for and against particular candidates in the coming elections impinges on the constitutional guarantees to a secular society.”
“The Diocese’s move to portray the upcoming election as a contest between ‘Team Buhay’ and ‘Team Patay’ or between advocates and opponents of the RH law is one-dimensional and a setback to our collective aspiration to raise the socio-political awareness of the voting public,” Claudio said.
She said that it was also promoting “unnecessary division” between the church and the people.
The controversial RH Bill was signed by President Benigno Aquino III last Dec. 21, 2012, a day after both houses of Congress ratified the bicameral report. The RH Bill had languished in Congress for 13 years before eventually being passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“The Filipino people have already made their decision in instituting the RH Law. We urge the Catholic Church leadership to accept and respect the people, especially the Filipino Women, in their decision,” Claudio said.
“We call on the CBCP … to ask its members not to mimic he discordant campaign initiated by the Diocese of Bacolod,” she added.
The groups instead urged the Church to “help us provide the people with comprehensive guideposts for them to arrive at informed decisions.”
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had asked the Diocese of Bacolod to take down the poster because it violated the campaign poster size limit. The poster was cut into two pieces but still remained in the front of the church.
The groups that came to the CBCP were Likhaan, Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH), Alliance of Progressive Labor-Women (APL), Akbayan Youth, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan (MATINIK), Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE), and Women Advocacy for Gender Equality (WAGE).