Safeguards sought on LGBT rights

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Vice presidential aspirant Sen. Francis Escudero is urging the government to take steps in safeguarding the rights and welfare of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by passing the anti-discrimination bill.

“I ultimately believe that each and every Filipino should have equal rights, access to basic social services and should be protected from all kinds of discrimination,” said Escudero, the frontrunner in all pre-election surveys for vice president.

In 2014, Escudero co-authored Senate Bill 2358, also known as the Anti-Discrimination bill, along with his presidential running mate Sen. Grace Poe, which makes any form of discrimination a “crime against humanity and human dignity.”

The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex or gender or sexual orientation, language, disability, educational attainment and other forms of discrimination.

“I believe that whoever you are, where ever you came from, the state should treat us equally with the same rights as any citizen,” said Escudero.

Citing a basic principle in social justice that those who have less in life should have more in law, the veteran legislator said the LGBT community, a sector of society often neglected, is also repeatedly stigmatized by different discriminatory remarks.

He said that according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the recognition of equal rights for all in society “would be the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Meanwhile, Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte are statistically tied in the latest pre-election survey conducted by radio station dzRH in partnership with Future Link Research Services.

The survey, conducted on Feb. 13, showed that 27 percent of the 7,572 respondents would vote for Poe in the upcoming presidential elections.

She is statistically tied with Duterte who obtained 26.4 percent.

Vice President Jejomar Binay came third with 21.4 percent followed by Manuel Roxas II with 19 percent and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago with 3.9 percent.

In the vice presidential race, Escudero topped it with 26.8 percent followed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with 25.1 percent, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo with 18.8 percent, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano with 14.8 percent.

Trailing them are Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV with 6.2 percent and Sen. Gregorio Honasan II with 5.5 percent.

According to the survey, the leading senatorial bets are former senator Panfilo Lacson, re-electionist Sen. Vicente Sotto III and former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Ralph Recto and former senator Francis Pangilinan.

They are followed by re-electionist Sen. Franklin Drilon, former justice secretary Leila de Lima, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, re-electionist Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, former senator Richard Gordon, former Akbayan lawmaker Risa Hontiveros, Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Joel Villanueva and re-electionist Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.

The dzRH survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent.

Poe said that the country’s next president should be a unifying force.

Interviewed at the 8th Go Negosyo Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit held in Pasay City yesterday, Poe said it has been a part of her campaign with Escudero to hold meetings in schools so that they could share their platform of government to students and hear what they have to say about various issues.

Poe was disappointed when they were recently barred from holding a meeting at a school in Roxas City, the bailiwick of Liberal Party standard-bearer Roxas, for reasons that she declined to disclose.

“I hope that in all parts of the Philippines the students would be able to listen to the candidates so that they could come up with an informed decision on who to support,” Poe said in Filipino.

Poe said that the country’s next president should be one that would set aside political differences.

Poe also admitted yesterday that her life story is full of drama but said that the issues she is fighting for are what gives her the strength to continue on her journey as a politician.

Faced with a disqualification case, which she has brought to the Supreme Court, Poe said that she is fighting not only for herself but also for the rights of every foundling in the country whose biological parents’ identities are unknown.

Poe was disqualified by the Commission on Elections as a presidential candidate because of her supposed failure to fulfill the requirements on citizenship and residency.

If the Comelec decision is upheld, she could end up being disqualified not only as a presidential candidate, but also as a senator. – Janvic Mateo, Marvin Sy, Manny Galvez, Jose Rodel Clapano


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