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On President GMA’s State of the Nation Address July 26, 2006

Posted by lagablab in statements.
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On July 24, 2006, President GMA opened the Third and Final Regular Session of the Philippine Congress with her annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). Having survived several attempts to remove her from power, the SONA conveyed a mood of triumphalism. Despite this, however, the opening of Congress is still marked by a political crisis that wouldn’t not fade unless the truth is known and systematic reforms are implemented.

More than a year since the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes have been made public, the political crisis that they unraveled continues to confront us. We, members of the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines (LAGABLAB-Pilipinas), renew our call for a credible resolution to ferret out the truth behind the electoral fraud controversy. That the government addressed the allegations by quashing all available mechanisms to arrive at the truth and by curbing civil liberties has worsened the crisis and pushed back our democratic gains. LAGABLAB believes that the alarming tendency of the government to impose draconian measures indicates that under the GMA administration, the truth will be constantly barred from surfacing.

The solution to the controversy should also result in systemic reforms in our governance. As a community marginalized and rendered invisible by sexuality-based prejudices, we support the broader struggle to make our democracy more representative and our society more accepting of diversity. We also affirm the importance of establishing a culture of human rights in our country, where the human rights of ALL are not seen as impediments to economic growth and political stability but are rather taken as crucial and non-negotiable indicators of development and democracy.

As lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, we, too, are affected by the lack of any solution to the political crisis. Instead of serving as tools for representation and democracy, our political institutions have become platforms for traditional politics. This year’s SONA did not convey the policy priorities of President GMA, but rather presented a laundry list of rewards to her allies. Congress also remains to be an institution for rent-seeking and distribution of patronage. As traditional politics worsens in the country, government policies and programs on important issues, such as health care and equal opportunities, are routinely discarded and ignored in favor of political survival. As it is, we fear that the Anti-Discrimination Bill, a proposed legislation that penalizes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, will once again fail to get enacted because of the government’s wrong priorities.

LAGABLAB also appeals to fellow lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders to stake their claims to the future of this country. Our country’s political problems should not be treated with apathy, dismissive exasperation, or fury. Let us fight our pessimism with the endurance of our hope and transform this crisis as an opportunity for national rebirth, where our dignity and human rights are respected and recognized and where all of us are truly part of the human family.

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