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Religious Villanueva politicians delay bill seeking to protect human rights of Filipinos no matter their SOGIESC

Father-and-son duo of “Christian” preacher Rep. Eddie Villanueva (CIBAC party-list) and Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva deployed parliamentary tactics that will ensure that versions of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate are stalled at least until the two leave office.

Working together to delay the protection of human rights of all Filipinos no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), the father-and-son duo of “Christian” preacher Rep. Eddie Villanueva (CIBAC party-list) and Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva deployed parliamentary tactics that will ensure that versions of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate are stalled at least until the two leave office.

In the Upper House (Senate), it is worth noting that – according to the younger Villanueva’s claim – 18 other senators agree with his way of seeing things, backing the discriminatory move supposedly because of the pile of letters received from extremist evangelical groups that claimed that they were not given enough time to air their views on the measure.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, lamented that the anti-discrimination bill has been pending in Congress for 23 years already, meaning claims of not being given enough time to air views is disputable.

Hontiveros helms the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, which moved forward in December 2022 the SOGIE Equality Bill.

But to take the racket of the extremist evangelical groups into consideration, Hontiveros wanted to conduct another hearing on the SOGIE Equality Bill. But she was outnumbered by majority of the senators who, instead, decided to refer the measure to the rules committee for “further study.”

The said committee is helmed by Villanueva himself, guaranteeing the demise of the anti-discrimination bill, which is expected to last for the entire duration of his term (until 2028).

As a starting politician, Sen. Villanueva used to portray himself as an ally of the LGBTQIA community; though after winning, he has been a staunch opponent of giving equal rights to LGBTQIA Filipinos.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda sought assurance from Sen. Villanueva that the SOGIE Equality Bill will not languish in the rules committee.

Meanwhile, in the Lower House (House of Representatives), the older Villanueva – a preacher cum politician – sought to delay the hearing for the SOGIE Equality Bill. The religious leader who is also a politician claimed the bill was “illegal” and a form of “forum shopping” by the Committee on Women and Gender Equality. This is because the Committee on Human Rights is already discussing the more comprehensive anti-discrimination bill.

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This Villanueva failed, with House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe telling chairperson Rep. Geraldine Roman (Bataan, 1st District) that the bill stays with the gender committee. The preacher cum politician was told to take up his concerns with the House Committee on Rules instead.

Villanueva wasn’t alone in the Lower House to attempt to hinder the passage of the pro-equality bill. Rep. Benny Abante (Manila, 6th District), also a religious person as a Baptist pastor, also accused Roman of railroading the passage of the bill. Abante – ironically – chairs the Committee on Human Rights.

With the SOGIE Equality Bill now considered dead again, the blame is laid on the Villanuevas’ feet. In Twitter, for example, trending were #SOGIEEqualityNow, Joel Villanueva, LGBTQIA, and others that touch o this issue. One called the senator as “duwag (coward)” and that “Mas matapang pa kaming mga bakla kesa sayo (We, gays, are braver than you).”

Due to what happened, Hontiveros eventually urged via Twitter for human rights advocates not to give up. “Patuloy lang ang laban. Hindi ako tatahimik (The fight continues. I won’t be silent). With my whole being, I am with you all the way.”

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