Duterte certification no guarantee of SOGIE Equality bill passage
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated he will certify a bill penalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression urgent, which would allow Congress to pass the proposal on the same day.
Regular bills are subject to the “three-day rule” between passage on second and on third reading.
At a press briefing after the oath-taking of press groups that cover Malacañang, Duterte said he will support any legislation against discrimination. He pointed out that Davao City, where he used to be mayor, has an anti-discrimination ordinance.
“Kasi sa Davao, pag-boom ng Davao, ang mga Moro galing Cotabato, galing Marawi hindi nila pinagbibilihan ang mga — sa mga subdivisions. Sabi ko, ‘If you do not allow everybody na magtira diyan… Pilipino rin ito. Human — you might not like them but they are Filipinos.’ I do not want it in a… Mayroon ako anti- discrimination. Bakla, iyang mga disabled. Nauna ako sa totoo lang,” he said.
(You see, when Davao boomed, the Moros from Cotabato and Marawi were not allowed to buy homes in the subdivisions. I said, ‘If you do not allow everybody to live there… they are also Filipinos. Human — you might not like them but they are Filipinos.’ I do not want it in a… I have an anti-discrimination. Gays, the disabled. I was first, really.)
Asked whether he would certify the bill as urgent, the president said he would.
“Whatever would make the mechanisms of… What—what would make them happy,” he said.
In a message to reporters, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that what the president will certify as urgent is a “general anti-discrimination bill like the Davao ordinance” and not the SOGIE Equality Bill that the Senate has been holding hearings on.
The Davao City Anti-Discrimination Ordinance recognizes SOGIE and penalizes discrimination based on them.
SOGIE Equality Bill
The bill, which will penalize abuse and harassment as well as refusal of service on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation and gender expression, has revived debate on LGBTQ+ rights.
Christian groups have opposed passage of the bill saying it would trample on their religious freedom on their belief that LGBTQ+ live sinful lifestyles and that God created only men and women.
They have also said that the bill would violate a school’s academic freedom by, for example forcing a Christian school for boys to accept a transgender male.
Opponents of the legislation have also said that the SOGIE Equality Bill is no longer needed since there are enough laws to penalize discrimination. They said the bill seeks to give privileges to LGBTQ+s.
Sotto has said that the bill will not pass if it infringes on religious and academic freedoms and on parental authority.
“You will never be a woman. So this, to me, the SOGIE bill is a bill against women’s rights,” he also said last week.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who refiled the bill in the 18th Congress, has said that the bill does not seek to do that.
She said the bill was filed to end discrimination against and abuse of people based on their SOGIE, which, she said, “starts with accepting the fact that LGBTQ+ persons should enjoy the same rights as everyone – including the right to live peacefully, and to not be treated as a lesser person.”
Certification no guarantee of passage
Although being certified urgent will mean Congress can pass a bill on the same day, that does not mean debates will be shorter nor does it guarantee passage at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The 17th Congress ran out of time to pass a proposal to make enrollment in the Reserve Officers Training Corps mandatory for students in Grades 11 and 12 because it was certified urgent a day before the session ended.
“There is nothing in the certification which would shorten the debate on any measure,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said then.
Certification does not mean the president cannot veto the bill even if Congress passes it.
Duterte vetoed seven measures that had been certified as “priority and urgent” and that were passed in the 17th Congress, including the Security of Tenure Bill and the Coco Levy Fund Bill that he pushed for in his State of the Nation Address in 2018.