By Jose Cielito Reganit
MANILA — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday maintained that the proposed Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill “as is” has a slim chance of passing in the Senate even if President Rodrigo Duterte certifies the measure a priority bill.
“The SOGIE bill, as is, will not make it even if the President certifies the Hontiveros version,” Sotto said in a statement, referring to SOGIE bill advocate Senator Risa Hontiveros
“Remember separation of powers?” he added.
Sotto made the statements after Malacañang clarified that President Duterte was referring to an anti-discrimination bill, and not the SOGIE bill, which the Chief Executive said he would certify as urgent.
In an interview, Sotto expounded on the issue when asked by reporters if the SOGIE bill would be prioritized by the Senate “should it get” an urgent certification from the President.
“If you will recall, and you know very well, a certification of urgency by the President does not mean that it will be passed. It’s only to do away with the three-day rule, from second to third reading,” he said.
“But the question is, will it pass on second reading? There were a number of bills that were certified as urgent by the President in the previous Congress and there were several that did not pass,” Sotto added, citing the Death Penalty bill and TRAIN 2.
On the other hand, Sotto said a “true anti-discrimination” bill, one that is similar to the anti-discrimination ordinance existing in Davao that the Palace is supporting, will have a better chance of passing Senate scrutiny.
“He (Duterte) is supporting an anti-discrimination bill pretty much like the ordinance in Davao which is encompassing. You should not discriminate upon the elderly, upon persons with disabilities (PWDs), upon gender, or whatever. Ito, talagang the entire population should benefit from being not discriminated upon for whatever reason. Mas maganda ang pag-asa nun (That has a better chance of passing),” Sotto said.
“It’s not like the SOGIE na nakatuon sa mga gays (that is centered on gays). SOGIE is class legislation,” he pointed out.
However, Sotto said the anti-discrimination bill being espoused by Malacañang still has to pass the strict scrutiny of the Senate.
“Pag-aralan munang mabuti. Tingnan natin kung ano yung anti-discrimination ng Davao ordinance. (We will study it carefully. We will see first what anti-discrimination is embodied in the Davao ordinance),” he said.
Sotto said they would oppose the insertion of any of the SOGIE provisions in the proposed anti-discrimination bill.
“If you will be going to again transgress on religious freedom, academic freedom, women’s rights, bakit ipapasok doon yun (why would they insert them)?” he said.
Among the provisions, they feared that SOGIE bill proponents might “smuggle” into the anti-discrimination bill is the provision on same-sex marriage
“Based on the SOGIE bill na naka-file dito sa (filed in the) Senate, you cannot discriminate on a person if he wants to get any kind of government license, pati (including) marriage license,” Sotto said.
He said in the SOGIE bill, in the case persons of the same sex were not given a marriage license, a fine of PHP1 million and six months imprisonment is imposed on the perpetrator.
“Up to one million (pesos) and six months imprisonment, anong tawag doon (what do you call that)?” Sotto said. (PNA)