As Filipino citizens, it’s our duty to vote government officials who are competent and put their constituents’ welfare first. The senatorial elections are coming up on May 13th (Monday), meaning it’s more crucial than ever to pay attention to what candidates have been saying during interviews, debates, and campaign rallies.
Today we’re focusing on what the female candidates are advocating for women and LGBTQ+ rights, especially with an administration that propagates misogyny and hate. There are only 11 women running for senator out of the 62 candidates, which is already alarming and proof of the lack of female representation in the Senate. (We’ve only had 22 female senators—the first was elected in 1947.) But take note that just because they are women doesn’t mean their causes and beliefs are feminist.
Let’s start the discussion on some of the popular choices for senator.
Poe is a top bet in the latest Pulse Asia survey for April. She is a re-electionist and has been senator since the 16th Congress. During the 17th Congress, she has championed 345 bills and resolutions for women and children, and various sectors in the country.
On protecting women: Poe wanted to amend the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 2016 to address certain cases happening in schools, the workplace, and even online. She also wants to punish those who are caught and proven guilty of sexual harassment and assault.
On women’s health: Poe is one of the principal authors of RA. 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act. This “seeks to provide free check-ups and counselling for pregnant and lactating women, and free immunization and micronutrient supplementation for children aged 0 to 2 years old” during the first 1,000 days. She is also in favor of the Reproductive Health Law, noting that it will help address the problem of maternal death in the country. She believes in “women’s rights to choose,” implying support for contraception and birth control.
Villar is another re-electionist who’s leading the recent Pulse Asia survey. She’s been senator since 2013 and has passed several bills focusing on jobs and agricultural resources.
On protecting women: As congresswoman, she authored and backed bills such as the Anti-Trafficking in People Act of 2003, Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2014, and the Magna Carta of Women.
On women’s health: Villar is pro-life and against the RH Law. In an ANC interview in 2012, she said it’s a reason why the country isn’t progressing. “Big population is an asset, but you have to solve poverty.”
Cynthia VIllar: I'm pro-life. You can't make RH bill a reason why PH remains poor. Big population is an asset but you have to solve poverty.
On divorce: She categorically rejected the passing of the divorce bill in the House of Representatives. She believes that married couples don’t need to split and they are capable of fixing their problems without divorce.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: Cayetano has been criticized for being a “faux feminist” because of her continued support for Duterte. She once defended his statements and actions as normal behavior for a man. She has also been mum about controversies like Duterte kissing an OFW in South Korea and his rape jokes, saying she is not his spokesperson. She is also backed by the president himself in this senatorial election.
As senator, Binay has filed 119 bills and 151 resolutions advocating for women and children, the youth, the elderly, and the poor.
On protecting women: In 2013, Binay filed the Electronic Violence Against Women and their Children bill, which is meant to complement the existing VAWC Act of 2004.“During that time, it did not include the electronic violence. This bill will only define a form of violence through new technology.”
Marcos is one of the most controversial candidates in the race as she is the daughter of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She is currently the governor of Ilocos Norte and is running under Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: The Marcoses are close with Duterte, which is why she’s endorsed by the president. She also never called out the president for any of his misogynistic behaviors.
Gutoc is the lone woman in Otso Diretso and is one of the popular choices among netizens. She is a civic leader, journalist, women’s rights advocate, and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. She was also a former legislator in the ARMM region.
On protecting women: Gutoc’s goal is to “bring understanding the issues of Muslims and women and to bring about harmony and peace in the country, especially in the region of Mindanao.” One of her proposals is to place more women in security clusters to advise the president in areas like Marawi City. “We have to make our country’s peace and security agenda inclusive for the women who are often marginalized, and are its biggest victims, in these areas. Women have the skills, wisdom, capability and passion to ignite concrete and positive change in the security issues we are currently facing,”
On women’s health: Gutoc supports the passage of RH Law and how it’ll benefit the women in ARMM, especially those who are in marginalized communities.
On divorce: Gutoc personally won’t promote divorce. She added that this is a matter the government and Catholic Church should talk about, especially with the rise of abusive relationships and the need to protect female victims.
On LGBTQ+ rights: Even though Gutoc is Muslim, she still believes in fighting for equal treatment and opportunities members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, she’s expressed that she doesn’t support same-sex marriage.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: Gutoc has made it clear that she’s not a fan of Duterte’s misogynistic behavior. She even left her post in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission after hearing the president’s rape joke after the Marawi siege.