Legarda Files Bill Against Racial, Religious and Gender Discrimination

July 27, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda has filed a bill seeking to prohibit discrimination, profiling, violence and all forms of intolerance against persons based on ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language and disability, amid the growing number of cases involving discriminatory acts in the Philippines.

Senate Bill No. 39 or the “Anti-Ethnic, Racial, Religious and Sexual Discrimination and Profiling Act” seeks to promote a society that values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and gender.

“It seeks to fulfill our international commitment under the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), to ensure its full application in our national legal system through the creation of a comprehensive law with substantial penal provisions,” Legarda said.

The Senator explained that the Philippine population is composed of many religious and ethnic groups. “This diversity has given way to a number of incidents on racial and religious discrimination.”

Meanwhile, profiling, which is a criminology term that follows the basic sociological science method of understanding the complexities of human society by breaking down members of a population into groups that share common characteristics, has resulted in stereotyping.

Legarda lamented, “Certain crimes, such as terrorism, murder and kidnapping are sometimes deliberately attributed to a religious affiliation. Profiling has also caused minority groups and individuals of a certain gender and sexual orientation to be discriminated against in many ways including in employment.

“The Constitution clearly provides for the freedom of every Filipino to religion and racial identity. No Filipino is excluded. Each and every individual deserves to be treated fairly and equally. Through this proposed measure, we should be able to reduce the discrimination that causes a different kind of terrorism—the one that fosters hatred, thus fueling disunity in our country,” said Legarda.

The proposed Anti-Ethnic, Racial, Religious and Sexual Discrimination and Profiling Act prohibits religious and racial profiling, effectively penalizing those who commit discriminatory acts such as subjecting a person to unnecessary, unjustified, illegal and degrading search; discriminating against a person who is applying for a job; or disallowing the entry of a person to an establishment open to the public because of religion, color, ethnic identity, the manner of clothing, gender or sexual orientation, or the person’s name.

The bill also proposes the creation of Equal Opportunity Committees in agencies, corporations, companies and educational institutions, whether public or private. These committees will have administrative jurisdiction over cases involving discrimination. Administrative sanctions will not be a bar to any prosecution in the proper courts for acts of discrimination committed or to any civil claims for damages by said act.