Alfie Agang, a student leader – and current head of Empress MSU, the LGBT organization of Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City – recalled being called “hayop (animal)” while going about his business in these parts of the Philippines. Particularly, he said he was buying something from a sari-sari (convenience) store when a young boy quipped “andito pala ang mga hayop (the animals are here).”
When Agang probed, asking the boy where he got the idea of associating LGBT people with animals, he was reportedly told that he heard this from Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, in reference to the Sarangani representative’s earlier claim that those in same-sex relationships are “masahol pa sa hayop (worse than animals)”.
Speaking to Outrage Magazine in General Santos City, Agang said that “what Pacquiao fails to realize is how influential he can be. And when it is hate that he promotes, particularly directed against minority groups like the LGBT community, then there are those who will promote his brand of hatred.”
This is why Empress MSU partnered with Amnesty International GenSan, Amnesty International MSU Chapter, Human Rights Society (HURISO), Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) and Hate-Free GenSan to launch #KnockoutBigotry in General Santos City.
#KnockoutBigotry is actually another Metro Manila-led effort that wanted to highlight Pacquiao’s embarrassingly bad performance as a politician (e.g. he only reported to work four times in 2014, and that voters should not consider him now that he’s running for a seat in the Senate.
And while Pacquiao’s anti-LGBT statements may affect the entire LGBT community, irrespective of where the LGBT people are located, it can be argued that those in General Santos are at least closer to the province of Sarangani that Pacquiao pledged to serve.
“He had one job (as congressman); he was supposed to make laws,” a statement from #KnockoutBigotry stated. But “the high poverty rate of his province is a reflection of his dismal performance in Congress, and proof that he does not deserve a slot in the Senate.”
“People need to fight for their rights, particularly when those who swore to promote them fail them,” Agang ended.