The Nacionalista Party has found itself unable to articulate a definitive stand regarding the Reproductive Health bill as major voices in the party are pulling in opposite directions and Nacionalista president, Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, remains undecided on the matter.
“Bagama’t malaki ang timbang dahil Nacionalista si Sen. Pia Cayetano, masyado kasing malalim ang pagtingin dito ng mga miyembro, kasama na ang sa Mababang Kapulungan, kaya minarapat ng partido na huwag magkaroon ng party stand,” Villar told reporters on Tuesday.
Senator Pia Cayetano is a co-sponsor of the RH bill.
“Siyempre di maalis na magkaroon ang timbang [pabor sa RH Bill] dahil kasama sa partido [ang mga sumusuporta rito],” Villar noted.
Villar added that he still does not have a stand on the controversial measure, “Nakikinig ako sa mga debate ngayon para mapunta tayo sa tamang konklusyon.”
On the other hand, Nacionalista member Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has plainly voiced his support for the RH bill. Marcos noted that he was the author of the House of Representatives’ version of the RH bill when he was a member of the chamber during the 15th congress.
“I have always been pro-RH. Marami akong nakikitang bata na hindi alam kung ano ba consequences ng kanilang ginagawa, para matulungan naman sila,” he said in a separate interview on Tuesday.
Nacionalista member Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV
said that he is against the RH bill.
“Ngayon, I am against it dahil dun sa sex education component,” Trillanes explained, adding that he would like to make numerous amendments to the bill before he could give it his approval.
For a diverse political party facing elections, fence-sitting on such a contentious issue could be the safest bet.
In the back of many a candidate's mind is the promise by the Catholic Church to campaign against lawmakers
who support the RH bill.
CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis has said that officials of the Catholic hierarchy in the country plan to issue a “catechesis on elections” to serve as a checklist for voters in next year’s midterm elections.
Eight out of 10 Filipinos are Roman Catholic, but it has not been clearly established in many locales whether the church's endorsement or rejection of candidates has any bearing on election results.
A non-Catholic candidate has even won the presidency — Fidel V. Ramos, a Protestant and well-known supporter of family planning and the RH bill.