It’s obviously impossible to talk about all the senatoriables for the 2010 elections with 61 names listed in the official ballot. This is also why it’s important that these choices are made before facing the ballot on May 10, and that we aren’t easily or simply choosing based on names, be they celebrity or political.

Here’s a fearless rundown of the women—and men—worth considering your list of 12 senators. And while Female Network believes in woman power, that is not the end all and be all of being pro-woman, yes? With the issues we have to consider, it’s important to go beyond gender and look at what each candidate has done to serve the country, as public officials and as private citizens. It’s with the senatoriables that personal convictions are infinitely more important than the parties they are running with.


WOMEN WE CAN TRUST


The Role Model: Pia Cayetano


senatoriables_pia_cayetano.jpgIf there’s any political daughter who has proven her worth as senator and public servant, even as role model, it’s Pia Cayetano. She authored the “Magna Carta for Women” in the Senate and is for the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, both of which represent her staunch pro-woman stance. She is also fearless about speaking on the side of human, not just women’s, rights even when it is not the most popular thing to do. Case in point, the case of the Morong 43. She’s number 10 on your ballot. Check out SenatorPiaCayetano.com for more on Pia.

(Photo source: Commons.Wikimedia.org)


Beyond the Talk: Miriam Defensor-Santiago

senatoriables_miriam_santiago.jpgShe is always up against many things at any given time, but there is the fact that Miriam Defensor-Santiago is consistently against the Visiting Forces Agreement and its contingent oppressions to think about. This is a position that our politicians rarely take, and add to this Miriam’s pro-RH Bill stand as well as her various relevant bills, it’s difficult to ignore her capabilities, tsismis notwithstanding. Read up on her by visiting Miriam.com.ph.

(Photo source: Miriam Defensor Santiago Campaign 2010)


The Feminist: Liza Maza

senatoriables_liza_maza.jpgLiza Maza is the strongest feminist candidate for the Senate in 2010. As congresswoman of Gabriela Women’s Party for nine years, Liza authored crucial pro-woman laws like the Anti-Violence Against Women Act, Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act, and Magna Carta for Women, and is co-author of the RH Bill. Liza’s has been the one voice we can count on when it comes to women and human rights violations, be it as activist or politician. She is unafraid to battle it out in the halls of government to the streets with the women she represents. In the face of Liza’s personal convictions and her political track record it’s difficult to imagine any other female candidate as pro-woman. Liza’s number 33 on your ballots and is online at LizaMaza.com.

(Photo source: LizaMaza.com)


The Daughter of Mindanao: Yasmin Busran-Lao

senatoriables_yasmin_busran_lao.jpgYasmin Busran-Lao is a daughter of Mindanao, fighting for peace in the land. More importantly, she is a feminist, and after research on the oppression of Filipino Muslim women in the different areas of their lives, she founded the non-government organization Al-Mujadillah Development Foundation (AMDF) for Filipino Muslim women. She is currently head of Women for Truth and Justice in the Bangsamoro, and goes beyond Mindanao by taking a stand for the RH Bill, and categorically states, “I am pro-choice... I believe it’s a human right.” More info on Yasmin can be found on her official Facebook site, and her pro-RH Bill stand is discussed on PEP.ph. She is number 26 on your ballots.

(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph)


Mother of the OFWs: Susan Ople

senatoriables_susan_ople.jpgWe may not be familiar with Susan Ople, but she has served Filipino women as a citizen and a political daughter, over and above her stints in government. She has been active in responding to the needs of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), saving trafficked Filipino women and workers, as well as kidnapped Filipino workers elsewhere in the world. She’s number 38 on your ballots and her official site is at http://www.susanople.com. More relevant information can be found here and on her campaign’s Facebook page.

(Photo used with permission)


Two Women With Clean Names: Gwen Pimentel and Sonia Roco

senatoriables_sonia_roco.jpgTwo women are running without much yet but clean names, and maybe that’s enough. Gwen Pimentel has had experience in government service as her father’s chief of staff in the Senate. Her platform speaks of protecting children’s rights and strengthening the function of adoption in the country. Sonia Roco meanwhile is wife of late senator Raul Roco. She ran and lost for senator in 2007, and since her husband’s death has become the chairperson of his party Aksyon Demokratiko. She speaks of women empowerment and accessible education as her key causes. Gwen’s official site is at GwenPimentel.org and Sonia’s is at SoniaRoco.com.

(Photo of Sonia Roco courtesy of PEP.ph)



Women of Media: Risa Hontiveros and Kata Inocencio

senatoriables_inocencio_baraquel.jpgRisa Hontiveros and Kata Inocencio were both daughters of media before entering the world of politics. Risa has served as partylist congresswoman for one term, and like Liza Masa is co-author of the RH Bill. She is the one who carries this torch for the Liberal Party campaign. That is also the role of Kata for her party Bangon Pilipinas, speaking as she does about how the RH Bill is not against the teachings of her Catholic religiosity. Kata was also a journalist before entering politics. Risa’s site is at RisaHontiveros.com; readers can learn more about Kata via her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(Photo of Kata Inocencio by Gregory Tomas via Commons.Wikimedia.org; photo of Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel courtesy of PEP.ph)


MEN CAN BE PRO-WOMEN TOO!


Tried and Tested: Serge Osmeña

With Serge Osmeña, not being in the newspapers means he’s doing something important, even when it’s not picked up by the media. So we don’t know about the bills he has passed, the budget he has allotted to the government hospitals, and his responses to urgent needs in the agriculture and fishery industries. More than these, in the final analysis, Serge has proven himself an independent politician which is too important in utang-na-loob and balimbing country. There's no official site for Serge, but here’s his Senate profile and Facebook page.


The Revolutionary: Satur Ocampo

Satur Ocampo is the one senatoriable who can claim to be nationalist and prove it. He was journalist before he became activist, representing the poor and marginalized from the streets to congress halls. As congressman of Bayan Muna Partylist for nine years, he has been integral to the creation of pro-people laws, including laws for woman (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act) and workers (Tax Relief for Minimum Wage Earners). He is the crucial force in the struggle for real change in society, where every man, woman and child will have their rights protected, and their lives valued. More on Satur, number 33 on your ballots, at Satur4Senator.com.


Best Man There Is: Ruffy Biazon


Ruffy Biazon has done things more respectfully than others by going through Congress before even daring to run for the Senate, even if with just name recall, he could win. Son of Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, Ruffy proves himself worthy of his father’s name, being congressman for three terms and co-authoring bills that protect women and explaining extensively his support for the RH Bill. And he does all men even better: he is co-author of the bill. Ruffy’s number 7 on your ballots, and his official site is up at RuffyBiazon.ph, but his pro-RH Bill stand is can also be found on Lea Salonga’s blog.


Checking Where Our Taxes Go: TG Guingona

Son of former vice-president Teofisto, TG Guingona’s expertise is in assessing our budgetary system and what is wrong with it. Obviously, given poverty in the country, there is much that is wrong with the system. For TG, the goal is to make national budget allocation so transparent that it will be made available online for every Filipino to see. This is important for all us working women who want to know where our taxes go. More about TG at Guingona.ph. He is mentioned as being pro-RH here.


From Classroom to Senate: Neric Acosta and Adel Tamano

Both Neric Acosta and Adel Tamano are teachers, and both are pro-RH Bill, but the latter has been silenced in the course of both their campaigns. And so it has been Neric’s work toward saving and cleaning up the environment that his website speaks of, failing to mention that he is one of the principal authors of the RH Bill in Congress. Adel meanwhile is sold as ex-president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and as honest and well-awarded lawyer. Neric’s official site is NericAcosta2010.com, his RH Bill stand can be read via The Sunstar Iloilo. Adel’s site is up at AdelTamano.PH; his pro-RH stand is mentioned here. Oh, and Adel is also pro-LGBT, the one and only.


These are just 15 of the names you might want to consider for that list of 12 senators you will vote for. Gender here was not a deciding factor, as it was an optional requirement—many men have been part of the fight for the RH Bill, and that makes them worth voting for. After all, in a society where the Church and conservative institutions blindly refuse the Bill, we need both women and men who will be able to decide independently and truthfully in favor of the woman’s right to her body.

And in the end what voting requires is research and reading up! We owe it to ourselves and the nation to come up with the best list of senators for 2010. After all, our next senators could be our next vice president and president.

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