Multi sectoral groups gathered inside the Davao City session hall Wednesday gave a thunderous applause when members of the City Council passed on third and final reading the anti-discrimination ordinance.
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte presided the session for the approval of the ordinance, his brainchild.
Duterte had tasked City Councilor Melchor Quitain to craft the ordinance, which will give people of Davao City equal treatment regardless of sex/gender, identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, nationality or ethnic origin and religious affiliations of beliefs.
“To those of you who feel having been discriminated against, especially the members of the gay community and the lumads, let me say this: While the city will provide you with the legal tool in your struggle for equality and acceptance, it is you and you alone who can earn for yourselves the respect and the dignity that you fight for,” Dutrete said in his speech before the ordinance got the nod of the SP members.
“If you want to be treated with dignity, then act dignified. If you abhor the abuses which you perceive are heaped upon you, then do not be abusive yourself. Respect and dignity cannot be legislated. They are earned,” the vice mayor added.
Duterte also reminded the people of Davao City not to take the ordinance for granted.
“It’s just a mere piece of paper but if you violate this law, you will suffer imprisonment,” he said.
Under the ordinance, any person liable shall be punished by admonition and a fine of P1,000 for the first conviction. For a second conviction, there will be a penalty of P2,000 and 10 days imprisonment for the guilty party at the discretion of the court.
For the third conviction, or any conviction after two previous convictions the guilty party will be fined P5,000 and imprisonment of 15 days.
“Social integration, that is what this proposed anti-discrimination ordinance seeks and hopes to achieve,” Duterte said before the measure was presented to the floor for third reading.
He ended his speech by saying, “I hate discrimination and I loathe bigotry.”
In an interview, Datu Carlito A. Guinto Sr., Matigsalog tribal deputy mayor, said the ordinance will be very helpful especially to their tribe who has been discriminated.
He said many claimed they should not be included among the tribes recognized by the City Government since they are not natives of the city as their tribe came from Bukidnon and Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
“Usa na siya ka diskriminasyon sa amoa busa usa ko sa muduyog ani nga ordinansa (That’s one form of discrimination for us that’s why I’m one of those who support this ordinance),” Guinto said, adding that they feel so blessed and thankful for the passage of the ordinance.
The Muslim community also welcomed the approval of the policy.
Ismael Nakan, Al-haj, deputy mayor for Maguindanao tribe, said this will minimize the wrong connotation of stereotyping them as terrorists which has made the gap between the Christians and Muslims.
He said the ordinance will serve as a deterrent to some businessmen who reject their applications for properties and other matters.
“Dili tanan Muslim maot ug kinaiya (Not all Muslims are bad),” he said.
Along with the lumad and Muslim tribes, associations protecting the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders also applauded the ordinance.
Bamba Bacalla, president of Agdao District gay organization, said apart from having the law to protect them, they would also consider the challenge to act with dignity in order to gain respect from the people.
“Tama tong giingon ni vice mayor dapat gyud ang respeto mag gikan una sa among mga sarili (The vice mayor was right, respect must come first from ourselves),” Bacalla said.
Eddie M. Batoon, co-coordinator of Ladlad, said in as much as possible, they also want to correct the label made by the society that homosexuals are the source of HIV-AIDS.
“It is unfair on the part of the homosexuals kasi actually it’s men having sex with men (MSMs) and not homosexuals alone,” he said.
He said the approval of the ordinance is an early Christmas gift for them.
Marivic Desquitado, executive director of Link Davao Organization, said they have waited for a long time for the policy to be passed in the city.
Link Davao is an organization of urban poor lesbians in the city.
Desquitado said the ordinance prohibits not only the discrimination lesbians get from people but also the human rights violation they have long been suffering.
“Ang humiliation especially sa mga pobre na lesbians, grabe gyud labi na sa pag apply ug trabaho. The ordinance will change the lives of many lesbians. They will be confident to face people,” she said.
Quitain earlier said the persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens (SC) are not covered with the ordinance since there are already national laws protecting them and their rights.
Arianne Caryl N. Casas