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Sen. Sotto named 'Bigot of the Year' by pro-RH group

April 2, 2012 10:30pm

Ten thousand pesos will be donated to the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) – in the name of staunch RH bill oppositor Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
 
On April Fool's Day – which, incidentally, was celebrated this year by devout Catholics as Palm Sunday – the Filipino Freethinkers (FF) “awarded” Sotto his prize for winning the “Bigot of the Year Award” at the group’s “R.S.S. (Reason, Science & Secularism) Forum” in UP-Ayala Land Technohub.
 
An online poll was held on the FF website on whom they considered “a Filipino who best exemplifies irrational prejudice against a group of people, and who has used considerable power and influence to offend and oppress this group.” The winner gets the prize money donated in their name to a deserving organization that works to uplift the conditions of the offended group or works to fight for a good cause the Bigotry awardee has opposed.
  
In a statement posted on the group’s website on Monday, the FF thanked Sotto for his supposed cash contribution – made in his name – “in direct support of women’s rights and pushing for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill currently pending in both houses of Congress.”
 
“I wholeheartedly thank Senator Sotto for his contribution to the cause and congratulate him on his victory,” said FF RH Advocacy Director Kenneth Keng.
 
GMA News Online tried to get Sotto’s reaction via SMS but the senator would not reply.
 
Sotto “narrowly beat out” other nominees such as Representative Pabling Garcia, who claimed at a congressional hearing that the organization Catholics4RH were not real Catholics; Bishop Teodoro Bacani, who said same-sex marriages are ‘kadiri’; Eric Manalang, who shouted at pro-RH activists “You should tell your mother to abort you”; and Rizalito David, who said his hitting an RH advocate during sessions at the House of Representatives was a “non-issue”.
 
Awards of Reason, Science, Secularism
 
The “R.S.S. (Reason, Science, and Secularism) Forum 2012” featured discussions on the reproductive health bill, freedom of expression, science, freedom of religion, and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders (LGBT).
 
“Public awareness of secularism is at an all-time high,” said FF Secularism Advocacy Director Pepe Bawagan, “and with this event, we hope to keep moving forward towards our vision of a society that is vigilant against religious meddling in governance.”
 
A highlight of the Forum was the presentation of this year's Reason Award, Science Award, and Secularism Award. The prizes given for each award were a trophy and P10,000 donated to the charity or cause of their choice.
 
This year, former law dean Raul Pangalangan won this year’s Reason Award, while astrophysicist Reina Reyes won the Science Award and RH-bill author Senator Pia Cayetano won the Secularism Award.
 
Videos of the acceptance speeches of Pangalangan and Reyes were shown at the forum.
 
Pangalangan said he was “particularly gratified” that there was such a group as the Filipino Freethinkers composed of what he considered “kindred souls who would like to look at the world like I did and reflect on it deeply.”
 
“I’m honored, I’m humbled, I’m grateful, and I’m inspired,” said Reyes. “Thank you, congratulations, and keep looking up!”
 
The Third Filipino Freethinkers Forum was cosponsored by the University of the Philippines Center for Women's Studies.



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