Anti-discrimination or SOGIE bill?

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    PRESIDENT Duterte on Tuesday night said he was open to certifying as urgent the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) bill now undergoing committee deliberations at the Senate.

    But in a television interview on Wednesday, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the President was actually referring to a pending anti-discrimination bill that bans discrimination in general and not just for a specific group.

    Duterte, in a press conference in Malacañang on Tuesday night, was asked specifically if he will certify the SOGIE bill as urgent to which he replied “yes” and even added that he favors “what would make them (assumedly referring to members of the LGBTQ community) happy”.

    Prior to the question and the President’s reply, he was talking about an anti-discrimination ordinance in Davao City which he said prohibits discrimination not just against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community but even against persons with disability and the like.

    Panelo, in an interview by CNN Philippines, clarified: “Actually, what he (Duterte) meant was an anti-discrimination law or bill, not the SOGIE bill, not that one.”

    Panelo said the fact that Duterte mentioned the existing anti-discrimination ordinance implemented in Davao City meant that he was referring to a bill with a similar content.

    “He is referring to the anti-discrimination law in Davao that applies to everyone. He is a lawyer so he will not certify a bill that will appear to be or is a class legislation,” he added.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that even if President Duterte certifies as urgent the anti-discrimination bill, this will not guarantee its passage in the Senate.

    As the Palace reemphasized its support for the LGBTQ community, Sotto hinted that provisions for their protection from harassment and violence could be diluted in a generally-encompassing bill.

    “A certification of urgency by the President does not mean that it will be passed. It’s only to do away with the three day rule, from second to third reading. But the question is, will it pass on second reading?” Sotto told reporters in an interview.  – With Vince Nonato