Sunday, October 16, 2016

Proposed anti-discrimination bill wins support from Bicol multisectoral groups
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 14 (PNA)— Multisectoral groups from various Bicol provinces, who joined a regional workshop and forum organized by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), expressed full support for the passage in Congress of the proposed Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act of 2016.

Representatives from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, youth and student organizations, who attended the forum held here Thursday, pledged to urge Congress to fast track the deliberations on the proposed bill.

The measure will prohibit discrimination for various reasons such as age, race, religious belief, political inclination, social class, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and disability.

CHR Bicol Director Arlene Alangco said several suggestions and issues were tackled during the forum, that aimed to get the support of all sectors for the enactment of the proposed bill.

She said the participants presented concerns such as discrimination in the employment of elders, person with disabilities and women who are ex-convicts.

“Bullying among indigenous people, the giving of scholarships only to bright individuals, non-involvement of the youth in government planning, poor compliance to giving access to the disabled in buildings and gender inequality were also raised,” Alangco said.

“The recommendations of the participants will be forwarded by the CHR regional office to the House of Representatives and considered for inclusion in the draft proposed bill,” she said.

Ako Bikol Rep. Rodel Batocabe told participants that as co-author of the bill he wants to introduce a gender sensitive curriculum so there will be a “culture of change.”

“If we want to eradicate discrimination, we should start from the young and the venue for this is the educational institution,” he said.

Edith Manila, vice president of Bicol Senior Federation, said they will pass a resolution supporting the bill’s approval.

She said the elders should help re-fashion the future of the young people since “we were born first so we should be able to do something for them” (tayo ang naunang ipinanganak, kaya dapat may magawa tayo para sa kanila).

Albay Board Member Job Belen said he will pass a separate provincial resolution supporting the enactment of the bill.

Rosalie Maestrado, the only indigenous person elected as council woman in the village of Santiago, Iriga City, told participants that she used to cry over the discrimination that they experienced.

“Before, I was afraid to ask help from the village chief because we were being ignored. Even my child was bullied in school,” (Dati kahit paghingi ng tulong sa barangay official natatakot ako kasi hindi naman kami pinapansin, at pati mga anak ko na bully sa school) she said.

Maestrado said, however, that they will continue to fight for their rights and “the bill has offered big hopes of ending the discrimination against indigenous people (pero itong bill na ito malaking bagay para matigil na ang discrimination sa mga minorya).” (PNA) FPV/GVR/Mike de la Rama/SGP