Star for all. Period.
Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto of the 6th District of Batangas – better known as Vilma Santos, or just Ate Vi in her life in show business – filed a bill that highlighted the “absence of government mechanism or intervention directed to monitor, let alone address, the incidents of discrimination, prejudice and even violence against the Filipino LGBT community.”
To remedy this, House Bill No. 2952 eyes to establish LGBT help and protection desks in all Philippine National Police (PNP) stations nationwide.
As per the explanatory note of the bill, these dedicated desks “shall act on all cases involving crimes against chastity, sexual harassment, and abuses committed against LGBT (people) in the Philippines.”
Crimes involving members of the Philippines’ LGBT community continue to be largely undocumented, even if in 2013, the Commission on Human Rights under then chairperson Loretta “Etta” Rosales attempted to document hate crimes committed against LGBT people in the country.
To date, the data frequently cited was collated by the now-defunct Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, which reported around 164 cases of murdered LGBT people in the country from 1996 to June 2012. Since the data has yet to be verified; and since it only focuses on deaths involving LGBT people or those assumed to be members of the LGBT community, the real figures on the crimes committed against LGBT people remain unknown.
There are, nonetheless, well-reported instances when members of the LGBT community experienced hate-related crimes, including the murder of transwoman Jennifer Laude by American Joseph Scott Pemberton. Official documentation, including by the PNP and by the court that heard her case, remained insensitive, misgendering Laude, highlighting the discrimination experienced by LGBT people even in the hands of law enforcers.
Santos-Recto’s bill also seeks for the PNP “to ensure the gender neutrality of its human resource processes, from the recruitment and selection to the promotion and deployment of police officers.”
In 2009, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that the Philippines has zero tolerance for discrimination within the military ranks. Nonetheless, the AFP Code of Ethics has provisions that can be used to discriminate against lesbian and gay members of the military. An example is Article 5 (Military Professionalism) Section 4.3 (Unethical Acts) of the AFP Code of Ethics, which states:
“Military personnel shall likewise be recommended for discharge/separation for reason of unsuitability due to all acts or omissions which deviate from established and accepted ethical and moral standards of behavior and performance as set forth in the AFP Code of Ethics. The following are examples: Fornication, Adultery, Concubinage, Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Pedophilia.”
In the end, the HB 2952 seeks to “create a police organization that is able and eager to respond to any criminal or emergency incident, regardless of gender orientation of the people involved.”