SOGI Oral Arguments 09-09-14
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Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Batasan Hills, Quezon City
R. V. Mitra Building
September 09, 2014 / 1:30 P.M.
Committee on Women and Gender Equality (CWGE)
BILL PROHIBITING DISCRIMNATION ON THE BASIS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY (SOGI) PROVIDING PENALTIES THEREFORE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
ORDER OF MEETING
The meeting as chaired by Hon. Chairwoman Linabelle R. Villarica (Congressman of Bulacan ) Call for the Order of Meeting at 2 P. M. The Opening Prayer was led by CIBAC Party List Rep. Chinchona Cruz-Gonzales.
PRESENTS were the following: Hon. Jose Atienza Jr., Buhay Party List; Hon. Congressman Cong. Rodante Marcoleta, Sagip- Party List; CBCP Representative Atty. Ronaldo Reyes.; Hon. Rofus Rodriguez; Hon. Bayan Muna Neri Colmenares; Hon. Lito David of Pro-Life Phils Party List; Rev. Tanchi representing PCEC:; Ms. Eillen Araneta of Alliance for the Family Foundation; Bishop Ruben Abante of Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church; Augusto A. Kho representing Bishop Daniel A. Balais of Intercessors for the Philippines (IFP); Noreen Gragasin of Civil Service Commission (CSC); Wilnor Papa of Amnesty International (AI) of Lagablab; Atty. Claire Jocson of Mirriam College; Representatives of UP Diliman Gender Office, Ann Lim of Agham Philippines for LGBT; Jonas Bragas, Executive Director; The Library Foundation; Ging Cristobal of Human Rights Commission International (HRC); Jocelyn Lavarinto of Phililpine Association of Christian Counselors; Kate Montecarlo of Transsexual Male; etc.
GUEST SPEAKER – AUGUSTO A. KHO
My name is Augusto A. Kho representing Bishop Daniel Balais of Intercessors for the Philippines ( IFP).
To Honorable Chairwoman Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica (Bulacan), members of this Committee, Guest Speakers, ladies and gentlemen "Good Afternoon."
I must admit that this is my first time to speak before a Committee Hearing in the House of Representatives \of the Philippines, and therefore I am quite nervous.
The draft of the said "SOGI ACT" bill was just handed to me last night at around 9 PM and I had a very short time in studying it. But as I scan the following pages, I can't help but to find such a bill so confusing and troubling due to some provisions that were mentioned therein.
One of them is the word, "discrimination and violence" against SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) which refers to LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender).
Discrimination and violence knows no one and therefore it is universal. Violence occurs to anyone, regardless of one's sex, religion, or age, to young and poor, educated or not.
To enact a law specifically to SOGI, I cannot help but to ask what’s so special about this bill, why SOGI seems to be special?
Someone said that SOGI Act is under the UN Human Rights Declaration and I may agree. But when a UN provisions or US Laws seem to influence and amend our Philippine Laws this may question our sovereignty as a nation.
We must be very careful in adopting US Laws and UN provisions otherwise, we will cease to be a democratic form of government. We are not under the rule of men but under the rule of law. And in our law, the people or civilian has supremacy, and not the honorable legislators. .
The word, "human rights " of the SOGI Act proponents are said to have been violated and that includes “ “discrimination” against them in terms of access to education, employment, health, work promotion, among others. Is it those human rights violations mentioned therein that pave the way in proposing this Bill?
But all those “discriminations” mentioned have been well protected under our Bill of Rights, Art. III, Sec. 1 that says:
"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."
Also in terms of employment, the document says:
Art. XIII: Social Justice and human Rights: Section 3. “The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities FOR ALL.”
In relation to academic rights, it states that: ARTICLE XIV, Section 1. “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible TO ALL.”
Why would you make another bill for such protection when it is already enshrined in the Constitution? Is it not moot and academic? Why SOGI as I said earlier is so special?
In SOGI Act, Sec. 2 the word "fundamental right of every person" is mentioned.
But "rights" is not absolute. Is it just because you have rights, you can do whatever it pleases you? Only God and Truth is absolute. The question is who is the True God of the Constitution and what is the real Truth? Even Natural Law and Science is not absolute. They can be subjected to change.
What is " fundamental" which refers to rights? Fundamental means simply means " an essential or basic support for one's existence." (Merriam-Webster)?
Would SOGI Act a fundamental right? But what about the rights of others? Would one's rights must be exercised yet it would trample and set aside the rights of other people? Would SOGI Act once disapproved violated their fundamental rights? Basic freedom or fundamental rights refers to right for basic existence and survival and the denial of such rights will cease them to exist. Not all rights however are needful and beneficial. You can not legislate a wrong to another wrong.
SOGI Act, Sec. 1 cites "Anti SOGI Discrimination Act." What do you mean by " discrimination" and
Why and how this " discrimination " came about? And \whether this " discrimination" is self- inflicting, a consequence of one's choice or action, or truly a discrimination against human rights? Choices and will of man results to any consequence or end result.
In Sec. 2, the words, "inherent human dignity " is mentioned. What is man's dignity? This cannot be achieved overnight but rather you need to work very hard for to be accorded with due respect. Dignity must be earned.
In SOGI Act, Sec. 3 (a) writes: “Discrimination” shall be understood to imply any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference which is based on any ground such as sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED,..."
This is so scary. In the court of law, there must be some probable cause and evidences must be presented. But the word " perceived" is from the word, “perception” which can merely implies merely a pigment or product of one's imagination. What if the SOGI's perception is wrong and yet a man have been criminalized and be jailed for the next six years with a fine P.5-M because of the SOGI-proponent’s pre-conceived ideas? Is it the victim’s rights have been violated as well?
While " actual" constitutes an act or action, the word "perceived" is NOT. Will a person will just be liable by his mere " thought?" Will perception can be used as an evidence in the court?
Similarly in Sec. 3, paragraph (b), the word, "Gender Identity" is mentioned. Is there any gender other than what the Philippine Constitution and Philippine Law provide? Under the Family Code of the Philippines, it says,
"Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered," (E.O. 209).
In other words, this Government has provided a definition of gender - man and woman, male and female. Will such mentioned bill will contradicts and attacks the Filipino Family?
What does the Constitution provides for the Filipino Family? The Constitution says,
"The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State." ( ART. XV, Sec. 1-2)
The Filipino family is the basic foundation of this nation. Everyone in this room, have a roots, have a family of their own as their own origin. Even the government came from this Filipino family. It says " unassailable" which means " it can never be attacked."
Will SOGI Act an attack to the Filipino family?
Every law must conform to a certain standards and norms. What is a norm? Someone from this room says when you did not pass the given norms, then, "di ka daw normal?" (You're not normal, therefore you are abnormal).
So when you are under that "norm" then you have not come up with a certain standards.
Republic Act 6713 - the Professional Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) has a certain norms to follow.
SOGI Act therefore, should follow as certain norms or moral standards as well. You can not simply enact a legislation or a bill or law without implying moral standards, otherwise, morality issue will become cliche and passe and you may as well erase that out from the dictionary.
This honorable legislators must be very careful in legislating law. Otherwise, you may legislates a law that is legal yet immoral, if not legal but highly debatable or unconstitutional.
Enacting a law must not compromise, violates nor contradicts another law. And this law must be bound in accordance with the Constitution. No law shall be made to violate the Moral Law as well or the law of conscience, nor the Natural Law or/ and Science or the Spiritual Law.
For example: The birds as a Natural Science (Ornithology) is how the aviation originated from (aeronautics ). Until we regulate aviation making some rules and regulations through CAAP.(Civil Aviation Association of the Philippines).
When a law defy another law or defy the moral law or contradicts the natural law, there must be something wrong elsewhere, and therefore it is immoral (though you can make it legal).
The fate of this nation depends on the hands of these legislators.
NO RELIGIOUS TEST
Someone says, "There is a separation of the State and The Church." And that is true. However, under the Bill of Rights, Art. III, Sec. 1 also provides, "There is no religious test is required in exercising one's civil and political belief."
Even the Church or Religious leaders have constitutional rights to participate in any civil (society) and governmental issues. They too, are people, men or women who does not merely have a strong spiritual values but possesses also a strong political beliefs and principles.
In others words, the Church, the religious groups, the atheists even the Satanists ( if there's anyone here) should not be deprived of any of their right? It is a constitutional mandate.
BILL OF RIGHTS
SOGI Act, Sec. 2 mentioned "inherent human dignity." If you would study the Philippine Constitution, Jose N. Nolledo, one of the its co-author said, " It is aptly said that man is created from the image of God, and his rights must be respected."
In other words, all men, whatever your gender is, your rights must be respected. But the question is, "What is the image of God?" The word , " Image" in Hebrew word, " tselem” means “phantom, illusion, resemblance, image.” God of Hebrew “Elohim” means a supreme God, judge, great, magistrate, divine one.
If we are ought to be created in the image of God, we must therefore conform to that image. God's image has no shady part. He cannot be dark and light at the same time. He cannot be good or bad as well.
GOD IS JUST
One man said ,”I tremble for my country when I know that the Lord is just”. No less than the former US President Thomas Jefferson, first drafter of the Declaration of Independence in 1770 who said that. Such first legal document eventually shaped the whole world. Not just Libya, Switzerland and Iran but also the Philippines have patterned their respective constitution from that of Jefferson’s draft on Declaration of Independence. So the 1935 Constitution invokes God patterned from Jefferson.
Some constitutionalists argued that Preamble must be taken out from the Philippine Constitution. Cinco, another co- author defended that "Preamble is real and substantial and not imaginary." Cinco believes the Preamble is the basic foundation of the said document. One should understand that the Preamble is the foundation of the constitution and assailing it is a direct attack to the whole document.
So we must be careful in using the words, "Separation of the state and the church." The separation of those entities does not cease God in the Preamble. Preamble say "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society... "
According to one of the 1987 constitutionalist, Jose P. Laurel Sr. said:"'Imploring the aid of Divine Providence,' now appear, 'Imploring the aid of Almighty God,' to make the reference to God more personal and direct. By invoking God in the preamble, the Filipino people “thereby manifested their intense religious nature and place unfaltering reliance upon Him who guides the destinies of men and nation,”
In other words, God must have a hand in the affairs or lives of everyone here, legislators or not, LGBT or not. God must be in the affairs of men and nations. God has predestined your sex or gender in terms of natural and biological laws. God is interested in the affairs of this nation, even on this particular bills we are discussing.
You see I am not quoting you any Biblical verse. What I have quoted to you is the Constitution of the Philippines which is vital model or pattern in making some bills or revision of laws.
You may inhibit the church and the state in this particular issue of ANTI-SOGI DISCRIMINATION ACT, yet you cannot inhibit the Almighty God in the document or Philippine Constitution unless you amend it, change it, or alter it.Thank you po.
I have no particular notes when I have made my oral argument as a Resource Speaker in the House Committee that day. But I tried in the best of my ability to recall what I have stated.
Chairwoman Villarica requested me to submit my Position Paper in the next ten days and she specifically pointed out that I should give an argument how this particular bill violates the freedom of religion. (In God’s honor, she commended me on my arguments after the Session.