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By Alvin Cloyd Dakis, RN
May 01-15, 2013 Issue
The 2013 Mid-term Elections is fast approaching and time and again I have been asked of whom I will support for both national and local offices. Honestly, I am still in the process of scrutinizing some of them.
But one of the major criteria I am looking for in a candidate is his/her stand on the Reproductive Health Law. For me following the principle of the RH Law is one of the basic tenets of good leadership – providing opportunities for those who do not have the means to access basic services, educating the young people of the implications of their behaviors & actions and making them own their decisions for their bodies, and empowering women and the poor to decide for their families and themselves.
The Purple Vote Movement has also named eight (8) senatorial candidates it will support, all of whom are also in my Purple Vote list. These are the candidates whom RH advocates believe should be voted because of their rights-based and pro-choice stance. They are Risa Hontiveros, Alan Peter Cayetano, Juan Edgardo Angara, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Benigno Paolo Aquino and Grace Poe.
What I'm including in my list here are the people I have worked with previously both in the RH advocacy and other other advocacy on health. I'll tell something about the candidates I have chosen and what we have worked on before.
Risa Hontiveros (Team PNoy/Akbayan Citizens Party) Risa and I have been working closely on the RH Law and many other women's issues. If there is one thing I greatly admire to this woman is her undying love for her advocacy. Her push for Cheaper Medicines in the House showed how she valued the access of our poorer countrymen to affordable medicines. Risa and I also share other progressive views on divorce, marriage equality among others. She landed 13th last senatorial elections, I hope this time she'll join our feisty and well-respected RH women champions in the Senate. One of my fellow advocate said that Risa is the "poster girl of the RH Advocacy".
Bam Aquino (Team PNoy/Liberal Party) Bam and I have talked about his probable candidacy back then and his plans for young people should he be included in the administration ticket. I support him because of his clean record in the National Youth Commission and because of his passion in serving the youth and his more personal advocacy on social entrepreneurship. At 35, he will be one of the youngest member of Senate and I believe that his candidacy will bring in a refreshing change for youth development in the country too.
Sonny Angara (Team PNoy/Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino) Sonny is one of the legislators who consistently help and believe nurses. He and his dad, Sen. Ed Angara continue to legislate essential bills for the welfare of nurses. He is also carrying another advocacy I am supporting - his anti-bullying advocacy is something personal to me as well. I believe that he is competent and idealistic enough to have that one seat in the Upper House.
Alan Cayetano (Team PNoy/Nacionalista Party) We haven't worked personally yet but I have worked with his sister and fellow RH champion Sen. Pia Cayetano. What I liked about him is his stance over issues on fraud and corruption, and does not back down in looking into this even if it means colliding with the president. Although I kinda disliked his wife's actions against those Taguig nurses who were fired because of them "liking" a Facebook status criticizing Taguig's district hospital - I just hope we can have this discussion to make a better health workforce in their locality.
Chiz Escudero (Team PNoy/Independent) I remember Chiz as our first keynote speaker in our nursing organization. Back then he is very approachable and "walang kyeme". He is the kind of leader you would want to work with - intelligent, humble, and charismatic. What I like in his platform is his push for the right to healthcare of every Filipino especially for the marginalized, the poor and the aged. And his push to eradicate all forms of discrimination (I hope this would include discrimination against sexual orientation & gender identity).
Other candidates being supported by the Purple Vote is also worth the support like Loren Legarda and Grace Poe. Although I have not worked with them personally yet. Here are two other candidates I have personally worked with:
Jun Magsaysay (Team PNoy/Liberal Party) Sir Jun and I have met in one of the Kabataang Liberal (LP's youth arm) and honestly I was a bit skeptical on why he is interested in the youth at first. But you know, as any grown and seasoned leader as he is, I think it would be nice to have someone like him rooting for young people and to ensure that the youth will be protected of their interests. Though he is into ICT, I still believe that agriculture is closest to his heart. Recently though a document went out from Catholic Vote Philippines having him signed a pledge that somehow would make him stand on the opposite side of the spectrum. Well, his camp denied that he signed this document. We're still waiting for their official statement.
Teddy Casino (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) Teddy and I have worked with a lot of issues usually those to protect the LGBT community from discrimination and abuse. He was also quick to respond when the nurses needed legislators to address their issues on exploitation. He will also be one of those legislators who started as youth leaders and is an activist in a lot of social issues. I was even able to use one law he authored, the Rent Control Act. Although he didn't make it to the final roster of the Purple Vote, his personal stand on the issue in the House and his other progressive stand especially protecting the LGBTs from discrimination is something to look into.
While the Purple Vote announced to cast its support to Hontiveros, Cayetano, Angara, Legarda, Escudero, Aquino and Poe. It also identified candidates it will not support primarily because these candidates vehemently oppose the RH Law when it was still a bill and have pledged the Catholic Hierarchy they will oppose the law and find or author legislation against it.
The following candidates who received a "No Vote" mark are Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Gringo Honasan from UNA, and Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes and Cynthia Villar from Team PNoy.
I encourage everyone to also base your votes to the candidates who stood with the people and those who defended the people's right to choose and to be given the opportunity to access basic services to their sexual and reproductive health. It is essential that we elect leaders who hear the voice of the people who clamored for this law for more than 14 years.
Apart from their progressive stance on the issue of providing basic RH services to the poorest of the poor, women and young people and to ensure that legislation be passed in protecting their rights, it is very important that we also check the integrity of their principles and that they have a good and clean track record of leadership.
And though we have polls after polls telling us the "preference of the public", follow what you think is right after careful scrutiny. Read their stance on different issues and weigh in your personal take. May our Purple Votes shed light to everyone this coming elections.