When it comes to choosing political leaders, one thing to consider is how a candidate sees the importance of intersectional policy-making in reducing structural inequality. History has taught us that an agenda hinged on mass incarceration and deployment of armed forces isn’t the solution for a country like ours with a fairly high poverty rate. It is also one thing for a candidate to have a stance on an issue and a whole ’nother thing for them to act on it after being sworn into office. So who among the presidential candidates running for the 2022 elections truly has a comprehensive plan for women, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized groups?
We looked at platforms (if provided by the candidate), answers to presidential interviews (released by the time of publication), and past statements made by six candidates: Labor leader Leody De Guzman, Senator Ping Lacson, former senator Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Since we’re not going to be able to cover all their stances, we still highly encourage reading through information available on each candidate’s website.
On divorce and same-sex marriage
Part of De Guzman’s plans to uphold marriage equality and support alternative forms of family arrangements is to legalize same-sex marriage and divorce.
He told Inquirer back in October that he believed that marriage is a contract ratifying the union of two people. “Gaya ng kahit anong kontrata, may karapatan ang bawat tao na nasa hustong edad na pumasok dito. At tulad ng ibang kontrata, malaya din sila dapat makaalis kung hindi na ito pabor sa kanila,” he said. He added that if we are for equality, we should afford everyone the benefits that come with legalizing marriage.
In the yes-or-no segment of the “The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews” held on Jan. 22, Lacson voted no to same-sex marriage but yes to same-sex civil unions. “A man and a woman should get married, not a man to another man, and a woman to another woman,” Lacson once said in 2016.
However, Lacson did vote in favor of legalizing divorce. In the interview with Soho, he said that it would be better for married couples experiencing problems since the annulment process is difficult to go through in the country. He has proposed a one-time divorce law that would bar remarrying. “Huwag naman ’yung parang Las Vegas-style na drive-thru ’yung kasal, drive-thru din ’yung divorce,” Lacson said about the issue in 2019.
Marcos stated during a Bulacan State University forum held in 2016 that he believed that it’s time for Filipinos to recognize the union of homosexual couples. “For me, the law should treat the people equally whoever you are. Whatever or whoever you want, the state should allow it because it is your choice. We should no longer discuss if it is conventional or not,” Marcos said.
When asked back in 2016 why he wasn’t for divorce, he was quoted by Spot as saying that he had no reason to support the bill because he loves his wife and didn’t want to divorce her.
He has not given recent statements on both issues yet.
In the Soho interview, Moreno stated that he wasn’t for same-sex marriage but clarified in a press conference that he “respects” same-sex unions. “I grew up with gays and lesbians…I continue to respect their preference, I continue to respect their actions privately, I continue to respect their union of being together,” Moreno said. He has been criticized for Manila’s rainbow-colored pedestrian crosswalks, which were deemed performative, and the arrest of 20 protesters during a Pride march in 2020.
In the same interview with Soho, he said yes to legalizing divorce.
Pacquiao drew flak in 2016 when he called gay people “mas masahol pa sa hayop.” In the interview with Soho, he claimed that he was misquoted but said that he still isn’t for same-sex marriage, citing his faith.
Pacquiao, who has been linked to women outside his marriage, is also against divorce. He said in a press conference back in December, “Against ako sa divorce kasi pinag-isa kayo ng Panginoon. Sabi nga sa bible, what God joined together, let man not separate.”
Robredo is one of the authors of House Bill no. 3432 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill. However, she clarified in the interview with Soho that she isn’t for same-sex marriage but supports same-sex civil unions.
Robredo also said no to divorce in the presidential interview. She has stated in a 2018 interview that she is open to supporting the proposed divorce law provided the current separation process is made accessible to the poor and that the law musn’t curtail the constitutional provision protecting the sanctity of marriage.
On abortion, especially rape-related cases
De Guzman is for the decriminalization of abortion and considers it a health issue. “Sa tingin ko mabuti ito para makamit ng kababaihan ang tunay na kalayaan na magdikta para sa kanilang mga katawan at buhay,” he told Inquirer in an interview. He added that there are many reasons why people might want to opt for abortion and that they should be able to consult with a doctor without fear of harm or imprisonment.
During the “Presidential One-on-One Interviews with Boy Abunda,” Abunda asked Lacson what his stances were on decriminalizing rape-related abortion—a distinction Abunda made because of his personal bias based on his own religious belief.
“I don’t think I’m prepared to answer that kasi lacking ako ng data,” Lacson answered. He said that while the effects of these cases on the mothers should be researched, he wasn’t for abortion on a personal level. “Sa tingin ko, huwag i-abort. Pero mag-intervene ang government kung paano mapapalaki yung bata at paano mawawala ’yung trauma doon sa nanay,” he added.
“Yes, I think for very severe cases,” Marcos answered when Abunda asked the same question. “If it can be shown that they were raped and it was not consensual sex that got them pregnant, then they should have the choice to abort or not.” The burden of proof will remain on the survivor.
Although he stated that it should be a woman’s decision because it is her body, he clarified, “So we do not go and get stuck in the moral issues…we can make it very distinct and say rape victims, victims of incest, if the mother’s life [or] health is in danger if they take the pregnancy to full term, maybe that will be another possibility. But beyond that, I don’t think we need to do more.”
“No. Life is life to me,” Moreno responded when asked the same question by Abunda. He equated abortion with taking a life but stated that he supports pre-conception family planning.
When Abunda asked about the consideration for pregnant rape victims who don’t want to have the child, Moreno tried to relate it to his previous experience as a garbage collector. “Pero di ba, ’yon ’yung buhay natin. Hindi ko ginustong maging basurero…But ’yon ’yung ipinagkaloob sakin ng tadhana.”
Pacquiao voted no to the passing of House Bill No. 4244 on reproductive health which sought state subsidization of contraception in 2012. In his interview with Boy Abunda, he said, “Ayaw nating ng abortion. Wala namang kasalanan yung bata.”
“Siguro in a few months, mahi-heal ’yang sugat na ’yan,” he added, suggesting that rape victims can undergo counseling. “’Yung bata nabuo ’yan dahil may part ka rin d’yan… Hindi naman ’yan mabubuo ’yan kung ’yung sa lalaki lang.” A number of netizens noted that it sounds a bit like victim-blaming.
“This is a topic that I’m very conflicted about,” Robredo told Boy Abunda when she answered the same question. She said that while her faith goes against abortion, she does believe that it should continue to be allowed when the mother’s life is in danger. “Pero having said that, kontra ako sa abortion. Pero sa akin, bukas akong pag-usapan yung decriminalization ng abortion,” she added.
“Mahirap ’yung balancing act eh. Kasi kapag nakita natin ’yung ipinaglalaban ng mga sumusulong [dito], meron naman silang dahilan,” she added.
On pornography in social media
De Guzman hasn’t been invited to presidential interviews and so he hasn’t been asked for his views on prevalent pornography in social media. However, he has listed ending violence against women and protecting women from all forms of discrimination as part of his platform. Measures mentioned in his platform also include passing new legislation to address the gender wage gap, strengthening reproductive rights, recognizing and compensating reproductive and care work.
It’s worth noting that De Guzman and running-mate Walden Bello have vowed that if appointed, they hope to have a cabinet composed mainly of women and LGBTQIA+ members.
Abunda asked candidates what they would do if they found out that their child is addicted to porn and how that would translate to policies on the welfare and protection of children. “I will seek the help of [an] expert psychiatrist,” Lacson answered. Policy-wise, he stated that there should be a government agency tasked with handling and researching cases of internet porn.
When asked the same question, Marcos claimed that when he spoke to his children about it, he told them that watching porn shows a lack of self-worth and that it is a form of violence against those involved. He then hedged a bit and said that it’s okay to view porn but it’s been too normalized.
When it comes to policy, he said that the government has very little control over what is put over the internet and called porn a social problem that should be dealt with “at the familial level, at a teacher level.” However, he did mention that we must chase after pornography creators and find the reason behind cases of parents forcing their children into porn.
Moreno said that while it was important for parents to explain to children the gravity of porn, the bigger problem is how social media has been abused. “I’ll teach them a very good lesson, [these] social media [companies],” he said. “Papapanagutin natin ’yung mga pinagbabalewala lamang ng mga social media companies. It destroys our country. It destroys society. It [already] destroyed a country and countries…And technically, I’ll block their IPs. I’ll make DICT a powerful agency to go after these corporations.”
He added that he also wants to look into catching people who pay for these types of content with the help of financial technology companies.
Pacquiao says he has long been involved in fighting against pornograpy. “Dapat kontrolin ng ating gobyerno ’yung internet signal natin, lahat ng technology,” he stated, adding that it’s already being done in other countries. He doesn’t consider it censorship, just a way to stop children from having access to porn.
Robredo also took on the same question from Abunda. With regard to addiction, she said, “Bilang nanay, ang pinakapriority ko ay ’yung gumaling ’yung anak ko. Kasi sakit siya eh. Sisiguraduhin ko na pagtanda niya, hindi niya dala-dala yung trauma galing doon sa pinanggalingan niya. Pero bilang presidente, andami kong pwedeng gawin.”
Unlike Marcos, she believes legislation can hold social media companies responsible for their content. She said that there should be a law penalizing social media sites for providing access to content like porn or fake news, especially to underage users.