Rainbow-related controversy haunts Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas’ campaign.
In 2010, former LGBT partylist organization Ladlad dumped Roxas for Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is now also running for President, because – as Roxas himself insinuated in an interview with Karen Davila – he failed to give moolah (i.e. money) to the organization.
On May 4, 2010, Davila asked Roxas: “What happened between you and Ang Ladlad? They chose to endorse Binay. But then we had Danton (Remoto) on the phone on this show, and he had said that he was willing to work for you, but you didn’t put out any money for some sorties, I think, in Bicol, if I remember correctly. What happened?”
Roxas replied: “I think that the statement speaks for itself, no? They had asked for some financial support. I investigated when that happened. Palagay ko naipit lang yung pondo, hindi malinaw kung ano ang nangyayari. Siguro nagmamadali sila, nagtampo sila, so they went the other way. We’re still friends with Danton.
Davila: “Have you spoken after that?”
On August 4, 2015, his wife, TV host Korina Sanchez, helmed the much-criticized #KeriBeks, supposedly a “national congress” that was really a by-invitation-only hobnobbing with Sanchez’s celebrity friends.
On January 31, 2016, GMA News anchor Mel Tiangco asked Roxas his position on marriage equality. Roxas stated: “Bilang public policy para sa akin ay hindi ako pabor dito. Subalit… may mga kamag-anak ako na close na close [who] have partners and nirerespeto ko sila, minamahal ko sila, tinatanggap ko sila. Bukas-puso, bukas-loob ang aking pagtrato sa kanila. Pero ‘yan ang personal ko sa kanila. Bilang opisyan sa pamahalaan ay hindi. (As a public policy, I’m not in favor of [same-sex marriage]. I have relatives who I’m close to and have partners and I respect them, I love them, I accept them wholeheartedly. But that’s my personal relationship with them. As an official of the government, it’s a no).”
On April 22, only a few weeks before the 2016 elections, some LGBT people gathered to express their support for Roxas in a press conference that Roxas did not even attend (or send his running mate Leni Robredo to attend). This time – via a press release quoting Roxas – the presidentiable has made a turn, as he was quoted as saying that he will certify as an urgent measure the anti-discrimination bill to be passed by both Congress and the Senate the moment he sits in office. Questions were raised on why he did not do this when he was in the Senate.
Roxas will, supposedly, also push for civil unions so that LGBT people in long-standing and committed relationships can have a legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage, without a church ceremony – thereby pushing for a “separate but equal” stance.
Moreover, Roxas will strengthen the Commission on Human Rights and other government agencies that directly affect vulnerable sectors, including the LGBT community.
Lastly, Roxas promised that he will appoint LGBT people in his Cabinet.
The gathering that – again – Roxas did not even attend was criticized because of subsequent stories that emerged claiming that the LGBT community supported Roxas, even if this is not the case, as the LGBT individuals who were present at the event only represented themselves and – for those who had any – their organizations.
With Roxas’ position re LGBT people (e.g. not supporting marriage equality as a public policy, tolerance of his friends and relatives in same-sex relationships) flip-flopping expediently closer to the election (and when he’s badly trailing in all surveys), support of the LP candidate by LGBT community members continue to be a divisive issue indeed, particularly for those who see #ChangeIsComing…