Dec 112012
Councilor Melchor Quitain

The City Council of Davao passed on second reading Monday the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance of the city.

This virtually means that the ordinance will soon become a law as the third and final readings are but a formality for the measure to be filed as such.

Councilor Melchor Quitain, who was tasked by Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to craft the ordinance, said the proposed measure is expected to be passed on third and final reading during Wednesday’s regular session.

Quitain said this may not be a landmark legislation of the local lawmaking body, but he emphasized that Davao is the first metropolis that was able to come up with the idea of establishing such policy.

After it was deferred last May, the council finally brought the item for approval on second reading on Monday.

The proposed ordinance 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.

Quitain said among the amendments made during the several committee hearings conducted was to include Councilor Berino Mambo-o Sr. as one of the members of the mediation board, which the City Government will create as soon as the ordinance gets nod from the council members.

He said instead of an official from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Mambo-o, as the IP representative to the City Council, will sit as part of the board.

Quitain said that under the ordinance, the aggrieved party cannot directly file a complaint against anyone. He said they have to pass through the anti-discrimination mediation board, which will filter complaints and check for strong grounds before filing before the City Prosecutor’s Office.

A representative from the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Education will also be among the members of the board, he added.

Although it is intended to promote social indications among people of different faith and sexual orientation, Quitain said he reminded the gay community to practice self-respect as they are the only persons who can help themselves.

“Although we give you the legal remedy, you must also act with dignity. You must earn the respect. Do not rely too much on the law to help you,” he said.

The first district councilor said it is about time to protect people from various forms of discrimination and treat each other equally.

During last Monday’s regular session, Councilor Rene Elias Lopez raised his concern regarding the political discrimination.

“To make the ordinance complete and effective, it must consider all aspects of the society. It was premised in section 3 that the political aspect is considered as basic freedom that must be included. I agree. Unfortunately, section 4 was silent on punishable act based on political discrimination,” said Lopez, who was the only council member who abstained from voting.

“My point is not political partisanship nor asserting a political right but if one were to craft an ordinance which will profoundly affect our way of life in this city, then it must be thorough, complete and cover all aspects of our society and not be selective,” he added.

Quitain then told Lopez to make a distinction between a right and a privilege or a favor. He said a right is “demandable by judicial action” while a privilege is not.

When asked if the argument raised involves the political party they are into, Quitain said there are no party lines in the City Council. “We don’t care about the author for as long as it is for the good of the people.”