The city of Candon in the Province of Ilocos Sur enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO). Ordinance No. 662-14 prohibits racial, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religious discrimination, thereby supporting the “policy of the State to work actively for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that offends the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights, and the State obligations under human rights instruments acceded to by the (country).”
The ADO specifically looks at discrimination occurring in the access of accommodation, education, and employment.
According to Association of Transgender People in the Philippines’ (ATP) Dindi Tan, executive director of the Ilocos Sur Pride Council, in a way, Candon City’s ADO “reinforces on the inroads that the LGBT constituency has gained overtime – visibility and participation in local governance.”
“Candon City has one of the most robust concentrations of LGBT communities in the province of Ilocos Sur. Over the years, cases of violence and discrimination were suffered by LGBT individuals even if a good number of them have assumed positions of power at least in the barangay and city levels. By way of an ADO, not only do we afford protections and safeguards to the LGBT in Candon City but also empower them to continue making a more meaningful involvement in the whole gamut of social and political life of the city. (With the ADO, we now) have mechanisms in place for redress in cases when violence and discrimination happen.”
The ADO specifically defines “sexual orientation”, referring to it as the “direction of emotional sexual attraction or conduct… expressed towards people of the same sex or towards people of both sexes or towards people of the opposite sex. Sexual orientation is not equivalent to sexual behavior since this refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.”
While the Candon City ADO specifies discrimination in accessing establishments, facilities, services, et cetera, it also mentions discrimination in advertisements/mass media. As such, it considers as discriminatory “portraying certain persons in movies, films and advertisements in any medium of communication… as ‘uncivilized’, ‘barbaric’, savages’, ‘dirty’, ‘wild’, ‘ignorant’, ‘silly’, and the like.” It similarly considers as discriminatory “subjecting, either by verbal or written word or publication, to ridicule or insult or attributing despicable behavior or habits or associating violence and criminal activities, any person or group of persons.”
COMING WITH SOLUTIONS
The ADO mandates the formation of an Anti-Discrimination Mediation and Conciliation Board, which will be composed of – among others – the city mayor; city legal officer; chairpersons of the committees on laws, ordinances and legal matters, the committee on trade, commerce and industry, and the committee on education of the Sangguniang Panglungsod; representatives from the LGBT community; city superintendent of city schools; presidents of the Restaurants and Bars Association of Candon City; and president of the Candon City Accommodation Establishments Association.
This board is tasked to receive complaints concerning violations of any provisions of the ADO, notify the parties concerned of the complaints, and mediate and conciliate the parties’ differences.
The ADO states that unless the board “certifies in writing” that a complaint has been brought to its jurisdiction for mediation and conciliation, and that it failed conciliating/mediating the same, “no complaint or action of whatever kind… shall be deemed actionable” – at least unless these violate existing national laws.
Those violating the ADO will be fined from P1,000, and imprisoned for from five days. A second conviction increases the penalties twofold. A third conviction thereafter increases the fines/penalties to P5,000 and 15 days of imprisonment.