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Mandaue’s anti-discrimination ordinance gets implementing rules and regulations

This July, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Mandaue City’s anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) was signed, said to “mark a significant step forward in our commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of every individual”.

Base photo by Bei Ayson from Unsplash.com

Hurray for Mandaue City!

This July, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Mandaue City’s anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) was signed, said to “mark a significant step forward in our commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of every individual” as “together, we are building a more inclusive community where diversity is celebrated and everyone is treated with respect.”

The IRR of the city’s ADO, which eyes to protect the human rights particularly of LGBTQIA people, was helped developed by the city mayor Jonas Cortes, lawyers Nenita Ceniza-Layese and Regal Oliva, Cebu United Rainbow LGBT Sector Inc. head Magdalena Robinson, and Dmitri Cortes.

Recalling the development of the IRR to Outrage Magazine, Mx Robinson said that this actually started October 2023, through a partnership with Free To Be Me, focusing on the PANTAY Community Monitoring Toolkit for the ADO community. At that time, CURLS secured funding from the UNDP Scale Initiative and proposed the project “KADANGPAN” (Empowering Key Populations: Operationalizing Anti-Stigma and Non-Discrimination Council for Policy Execution). Supported by a UNDP seed grant, KADANGPAN (which, in local Binisaya means “recourse”) officially started its implementation in November 2023 in the cities of Mandaue and Lapulapu, Cebu Province.

“The project’s main objective was to establish an anti-stigma and non-discrimination council that effectively executes and enforces policies within the community,” Robinson said.

In two months, the officers conducted various activities contributing to the project’s overall goals, including a consultation workshop in the implementation of the ADO, needs assessment and action plan by stakeholders, and a community-led IRR writeshop in December 2023.

The IRR draft was completed in February 2024, and was endorsed to various Mandaue City agencies for comments. The legal office consolidated the comments, reviewed, and endorsed the final IRR last June 28, 2024 for the mayor’s approval and signing. The signing, done on July 10, was “a milestone for Mandaue City’s LGBTIQ community and its partners as this has been a collaborative initiative to bear a substantial and meaningful implementation of the ADO,” Robinson said.

For Robinson, the IRR is crucial for the local LGBTQIA community for several reasons:

  • Executive guidance: The IRR provides clear guidance to implementers, ensuring consistent and effective execution of the law. It clarifies how generic and vague provisions of the ordinance should be applied.
  • Access to redress mechanisms: By identifying due processes, the IRR ensures that parties have access to redress mechanisms as afforded by the law. This protects the rights of individuals and promotes accountability.
  • Commitment to implementation: Local Government Units (LGUs) that develop IRRs commit to implementing the law and its mandates, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for the LGBTQIA community.

After this “milestone”, LGBTQIA organizations are already eyeing to offer broadened services.

CURLS, as an example, already has plans to take further actions, including:

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  • institutionalization of a community-led reporting mechanism with CURLS hoping to “develop an accessible reporting mechanism led by the community to document the experiences of LGBTQIA individuals, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights protected”
  • integrating online paralegal assessment and assistance CURLS hoping to provide online paralegal assessment and assistance to “empower affected individuals to navigate legal processes effectively”
  • ensure meaningful participation in the DASOG Commission as it hopes for the LGBTQIA community to “actively participate in the DASOG Commission, a multisectoral governance body overseeing, monitoring, evaluating, and designing strategies for effective policy implementation”
  • develop DASOG Strategic Plan and Manual of Operations to “provide the implement office reference document in its day-to-day implementation and enforcement of the due process and other executive sanctions”

Still only a handful of LGUs in the Philippines have ADOs, and there are some that continue not to have IRRs, making their implementation challenging. Davao City, as an example, passed an ADO in 2012, and yet even now, there is still no IRR that will guide how the aforementioned ADO is supposed to be implemented.

Perhaps not surprisingly, even with an ADO, LGBTQIA-related discrimination is still reported in Davao City.

For Robinson, Mandaue City’s IRR is, indeed, a step to protect the human rights of all, no matter their SOGIESC, thus “empowering individuals to navigate legal processes effectively.”

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