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#TalkOnTW: LGBTQI+ Community in PH

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect that of TomasinoWeb, its members, its officers, and the University.

The House of Representatives, voting 197-0, had already approved on third and final reading its version of the bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE), which involves provision of equal rights to members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

However, the measure has yet to face difficulty in the Upper Chamber as some senators remain in the opposition of its passage. To note, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, a staunch Catholic, stated that there is still hope for the SOGIE bill, but only if its “controversial provisions” are resolved.

These controversial provisions for Sotto include the removal of dress codes and allowing members of the LGBT community to dress based on their SOGIE; the use of restrooms on the basis of SOGIE; and the “encroachment into religious and academic practices.”

Christian groups in the country, moreover, strongly condemned the bill’s motion, saying homosexuality is a sin, according to the Bible, and violates the present Constitution. Jesus Is Lord (JIL) founder Brother Eddie Villanueva even affirmed during a JIL-led movement: “Same-sex marriage is an abomination to God. The Bible is so clear about the man marrying another man. This will invite kinds of curses that we cannot contain in our generation.”

Yet, even as denunciation and dissent continue to occur, the recent years of the country saw the rise of concerns toward and battles against LGBT—now LGBTQI+ (Queer and Intersex+)—discrimination: In 2016, the first trans legislator had been elected. Pop culture has now become positively gayer than before. Pride flags splash their colors everywhere. Not only the LGBTQI+ community but its supporters as well now march in solidarity—for equality.

On another note, in 2013, Pope Francis himself had asserted that gay people should not be marginalized but integrated in the society. The Pope expressed: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

With Pride Month nearing its end and preparations for Pride March are on the works, TomasinoWeb sparked an online discussion regarding the state of the LGBTQI+ community in the country. The following are the thoughts of the students on the issue:

 

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Standpoint

#TalkOnTW: Isko’s Liquor Ban near schools in Manila

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect that of TomasinoWeb, its members, its officers, and the University.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso signed an executive order on Thursday, July 25, mandating strict implementation of city ordinances prohibiting the selling of alcoholic beverages within the 200-meter range of schools and universities in Manila. The regulation immediately took effect upon issuance.

Executive Order No. 17 mandates the Bureau of Permits and License Office (BPLO), City Treasurer’s Office, and business establishments to strictly observe Ordinance No. 8520 and Ordinance No. 3532, with the former pertaining to the prohibiting of selling intoxicating liquor to minors in “any store, mall, bar, restaurant, eatery or any commercial establishment in Manila” and the latter pertaining to the prohibiting of selling liquor in said establishments located within the 200-meter radius of learning institutions, such as schools and universities.

With the resumption of classes slowly approaching the calendar, TomasinoWeb launched an online discussion regarding the recently signed regulation. The following are the thoughts of the students on the issue:

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno also joined the discussion:

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Editorial

Not just mere collaterals, not a laughing matter

In the past three years of President Duterte’s administration, we have seen a lot of collaterals—be it a victim of his bloody war on drugs or his anti-poor policies—done just so that he could finally say that “change has come,” that he has succeeded. But what we have observed, so far, is a regression of what has been achieved, a degradation of democracy, a propagation of the culture of violence and impunity, and we are waiting for him to look us in the eye and convince us of what change has really been done, for better or worse, in his first three years.

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“We cannot drive the [Chinese] away because they insisted it’s theirs.”

Weeks after the Recto Bank incident, President Duterte has this to say about what the Palace deemed to call “a maritime incident” in which a Chinese vessel hit a Philippine boat carrying 22 fishermen and left them there to the “mercy of the elements.”

“Tanong sila, ‘Will you allow the Chinese to fish?’ Sabi ko, ‘Of course. ‘Yan ang pinag-usapan namin noon, kaya tayo nag-uusap eh. And that was [why] we were allowed to fish again,” Duterte said in his speech at the anniversary of the Presidential Security Group last Wednesday, June 26. “Ngayon, sabi nila, ‘You have to ban China. I-prohibit mo.’ Kung i-prohibit ko, how do I enforce my desire?”

Duterte is talking about a supposed ‘mutual agreement’ the Philippines made with China (which Panelo said “was more of an informal agreement” and by word) through a bilateral talk in which DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, and other cabinet members were said to have attended.

Meanwhile, Duterte, the Chief Executive who vowed to enforce the Laws of the Land and who himself proudly proliferates the doctrine that obedience to law will entail peace and order, continues to contradict himself by making a folly out of the Philippine Constitution.

Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

Further, the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 also bans foreign fishing vessels in Philippine waters. The Hague ruling declared that Recto Bank is part of Philippine waters, therefore Chinese vessels fishing in the area would be a violation of our exclusive rights.

But it seems that the President doesn’t find urgency in this; he surrendered our sovereignty the moment he agreed in the bilateral agreement with the superpower up until now that he remains complacent.

With an estimate of 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in our EEZ, it is no more obvious that the gas-rich West Philippine Sea is an investment paradise for imperialists since it is booming with natural resources. Recto Bank’s Sampaguita gas field alone has up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 115 million barrels of oil.

Further, China has already expressed its desire to fund Duterte’s Build, Build, Build fantasy. Infamous for its debt-trap policy, China interests itself with the West Philippine Sea.

Last March, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that there is nothing wrong with Recto Bank as collateral for a loan agreement with China. “For me [China seizing Reed Bank should there be a default in the repayment of the loan] is… not a possibility because we never reneged,” he told reporters. “We are known for paying our obligations.”

This is alarming, no more than how analysts were alarmed after Senate President Sotto’s “fish” remarks. Malacañang should be reminded that our sovereignty is non-negotiable.

In the past three years, we have seen a decline in the rule of democracy: a senator got jailed and another is being threatened with incarceration just for being a critic of the administration; a Supreme Court Chief Justice was ousted, backed by the Chief Executive himself; and a government agency that checks on executive power was threatened.

There is a culture of violence and impunity manifested by the rising death toll of Duterte’s War on Drugs, the recently recorded 209 dead farmers under this administration, the continuous crackdown on human rights defenders and activists, violent dispersals of striking workers across the country and union busting, and the ongoing Martial Law in Mindanao.

These—after attacking press freedom, making rape jokes and misogynistic and homophobic statements, disrespecting religion, and allying with known plunderers and tyrants—have all been done just so that Duterte could finally say “change has come.”

Just last Tuesday, July 2, a three-year-old girl has become the latest victim of Duterte’s drug war. Senate-elect Ronald Dela Rosa dismissed the incident by saying “Sh*t happens.”

It is high time to respond to these attacks and say enough is enough. The President must be reminded that we are not mere collaterals in his dreamscape and that we know it when actual sh*t happens: It is when tyrants get more power and the failure of democracy becomes a laughing matter.

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Editorial

Are you standing behind the right line?

Our heroes died fighting for our freedom. But Rodrigo Duterte kills our freedom by drowning out the critical voices of the media through its relentless attacks against the freedom of the press—and even going as far as weaponizing the law.

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Art by Jessica Lopez

Jose Rizal died fighting for our freedom. Andres Bonifacio died fighting for our freedom. Our heroes died fighting for our freedom. But Rodrigo Duterte kills our freedom by drowning out the critical voices of the media through its relentless attacks against the freedom of the press—and even going as far as weaponizing the law.

Ripping off from Marcos’ playbook, Duterte drowns the independent and critical voices who can destabilize his kingdom of bones and blood.

The online news site, Rappler, has been very critical of the administration, noting the brutal bloodshed in the name of  War on Drugs, the dominance of internet trolls, and his anti-poor projects such as the TRAIN Law to name of a few of his list of sins.

And just last week, an arrest warrant has been issued against Rappler’s CEO, Maria Ressa for cyber libel charges pertaining to an article they published way back in May 2012. The complainant, Wilfredo Keng, has been allegedly linked with the late Chief Justice Renato Corona who was undergoing an impeachment trial during that time. However, the cyber libel law was not yet in effect until October of that same year. And in addition to that, Keng had only filed the complaint on October 2017 which was five years too late. Yet despite the discrepancies of the case, an arrest warrant was given to Ressa, and was forced to post bail amounting to P100,000 the next day. At least eight charges has been filed against the online news site ever since last year, and was forced to bail for six times already.

With the State using the law to its advantage, they flaunt their powers to silence the critical. Their oppression trickled down to various university and college publications, who are now on the verge of shutdown due to censorship, and even alternative media who openly lambasts his bloody regime.

This is not just a battle between the warring factions of the DDS Army and the Dilawans, this is a battle under the banner of the three stars and the sun. The enemy does not lie with us, it sleeps inside the grand facade of the Palace. This regime knows that the people hold the true power—and it terrifies them greatly that they try to divide us by spreading distrust and false propaganda.

We are one in holding the line. And we will hold it until we taste the freedom our heroes have died for.

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