Risa not deterred-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
SHE could have chosen to play it safe. She was no longer a member of the House when they tackled the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. She knew that the bill was assured of passing because the President was strongly pushing for it. She also knew that the Church was vehemently opposed to the measure and was likely to punish those who supported it. She could have kept her peace and escaped their wrath.
But it wouldn’t have been her. Risa Hontiveros is not an opportunist who abandons advocacy for the sake of personal gain or convenience. The RH bill was like a child to her and she gladly waded into the fray to keep it alive. And now she’s reaping the clergy’s grapes of scorn.
While there are six other names that are listed alongside hers in the Church’s Team Patay, it is Risa who is particularly being made to bear the brunt of the campaign to demonize the pro-RH law senatorial candidates. The archbishop of Bacolod, Vicente Navara, has reportedly singled her out from among his hated Team Patay members. For what reason, we can only surmise.
And she’s quaking in fear? Far from it. “I will not be deterred,” she said in a statement released the other day.
Risa said she is not surprised by her inclusion in Navara’s list and the ones being posted in other dioceses. She disputed the claim that she is anti-life, asserting that her support for the RH law “reflects deep respect for life.”
“Ang suporta sa RH law ay pagsuporta sa buhay. The RH law gives us a tool to eliminate maternal deaths and to significantly reduce cases of unwanted pregnancy, which is the driver of abortion. Hindi ba iyan and tunay na ibig sabihin ng pro-life?”
If there was any doubt that her position was wavering because of the posters, Hontiveros quickly doused it. “I supported the RH bill, I pushed for its passage into law, and I will push for the full implementation of the law,” she declared.
“We have modernized our elections, and while I recognize that there are still many things that need to be done, in many areas our country is moving,” her statement read.
“I think this latest medieval attempt at fear-mongering, if we are going to accept it, is a step backward.
“We have approved the law and the world did not end. The embers of division should not be fanned, especially since noting in the law impairs the exercise of conscience. We differ with the Church hierarchy when it comes to this bill, and there should be a healthy respect for that difference.”
Expressing her “deep disappointment” with the decision of the Church to campaign against pro-RH candidates, Risa noted that while they may have different opinions on the law, “we went through the process, and we have debated extensively on these issues.
“For the Church leadership to foray into politics is extremely disappointing, and I hope that this does not indicate a disrespect for our constitutional process, especially since we have already exhausted the debate on the merit of the issue.
Is she worried that the clergy would jeopardize her chances of winning a Senate seat?
“I expect that they will not support my candidacy, but I think it is unreasonable to believe that Catholic voters will junk pro-RH candidates. I still believe that majority of Catholics are pro-RH, and they look forward to getting commitments from other candidates that they support the enforcement of the new law.”
In any case, she said, “I will not be deterred.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2013.