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City of Vigan passes anti-discrimination ordinance

The City of Vigan has announced that it passed a resolution prohibiting racial, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religious discrimination. Ordinance No. 36, Series of 2014 – which was enacted at the end of 2014 – declares that, as a policy, “discriminatory practices… shall be prescribed and penalized.”

The Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Vigan passed a resolution prohibiting racial, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religious discrimination. Ordinance No. 36, Series of 2014 – which was enacted at the end of 2014 – declares that, as a policy, “discriminatory practices… shall be prescribed and penalized.”

The anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) was championed by city councilor Carlo Medina and vice mayor Lulu Baquiran, with councilor Ramil Arce, who heads the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Committee on Human Rights. Vigan City’s city administrator Edred Piamonte, as well as mayoral staff Mee Nah also helped in the introduction of the ADO, with three public hearings held prior to its passage.

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In its development stage, the ADO was pushed from the LGBT community by the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP), Ilocos Sur Pride Council, and US-based Gender Proud.

With this development, “one of the ‘New 7 Wonder Cities of the World’ becomes a gender-fair city’,” said ATP’s Dindi Tan, who also serves as the executive director of the Ilocos Sur Pride Council. “The heritage city of Vigan takes on a progressive leap (with this ADO) as it joins other cities and provinces in the country that have enacted their respective ADOs.”

The ADO noted provisions in the 1987 Philippine Constitution to promote human rights for all. Among others, particularly mentioned were Article II, Section 10 which “provides that the State promote social justice in all phases of national development”; Article II, Section 11 that provides that the State value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights; and Article III, Section 1 that states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws”.

The ADO also noted how the Philippines has “obligations under human rights instruments” that the State signed.

Akin to other ADOs passed in other parts of the Philippines, Vigan City’s ADO includes discrimination in employment, education, access to goods and services, accommodation, access to public places/facilities/meeting places, and access to commercial establishments.

The Vigan City ADO, however, also mentions discrimination in political participation, wrongful portrayal, and inciting of others to commit acts of discrimination.

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Also similar to other ADOs, the formation of an Anti-Discrimination Mediation and Conciliation Board is mandated. This body – formed by the city mayor; Sangguniang Panlungsod’s chairperson of the committee on women, family affairs and gender development; city legal officer; head of the Commission on Higher Education; head of the Department of Labor and Employment in Vigan City; and three representatives from accredited non-government organizations.

Any person liable under the ADO will be punished with “admonition and a fine of P1,000” for the first conviction. This increases to imprisonment for not more than 10 days plus P2,000 for the second conviction. A third conviction, or any conviction after two convictions will be penalized with 15 days imprisonment and a fine of P5,000.

While the ADO was signed on November 10, 2014, it was earlier embargoed.

“We are overcome by emotion and joy (with this ADO),” said ATP’s Tan, adding that while “this is a big human rights victory in Ilocandia”, the LGBT community is now looking at having an ADO covering the entire Province of Ilocos Sur.

Viva Vigan! Agbiag ti LGBT ti Ilocandia!” ended Tan.

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