An answer to your letters August 3, 2006Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, Discrimination.
This is the fruit of your labor.
Yesterday, a delegation from LAGABLAB, comprised of Dax de Castro (also from Amnesty International Pilipinas), Eva Callueng (Task Force Pride and UP Babaylan), Joey Ventayen (Metropolitan Community Church), Jessie Dimaisip (AKBAYAN Gay and Lesbian Collective), Fr. Richard Mickley (OSAe), Jojo Gabuya and Jonas Bagas went to the Philippine Senate to meet with the Office of Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla and to lobby for the Anti-Discrimination Bill.
It was a fruitful day. Atty. Ernesto Perez from the Office of Sen. Revilla told us that they received a number of letters urging the senator to push for SBN 1738. We were also told that Sen. Revilla’s office already sent a letter to the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, to calendar the bill for public hearing as soon as possible. Atty. Perez relayed Senator Revilla’s commitment to ensure the bill’s approval.
We then went around the offices of different senators to give background materials on the bill and to get their support. Some of the congressional staff members appeared surprised that lesbians and gays were there lobbying for their rights. We spent time explaining to high-ranking staff members the issues of the lesbian and gay community and why a national legislation prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians is necessary and urgent. Senator Lim was ‘ambushed’ by LAGABLAB member and was asked to give his support to the bill, of which he simply said that we have his vote.
A few days before the visit, we received information that the Committee on Labor will have a hearing on the same day regarding a different bill. While some of us stayed at the Senate Lounge to talk to the Chief Legislative Staff of Sen. Loi Ejercito-Estrada (who, by the way, committed to ensure that the Anti-Discrimination Bill is discussed in one of the meetings between Sen. Loi Estrada and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada), a different set went to Recto Hall, where the Committee on Labor hearing was talking place.
The very moment Sen. Jinggoy Estrada stood up at the end of the meeting, we rushed to his side and, with nothing but kapal ng mukha, we introduced ourselves as lesbian and gay activists lobbying for a bill that was referred to his committee. The people around us were smiling mischievously, but we continued and explained how important the bill is for the lesbian and gay community. We also mentioned Inday Garutay’s case as a proof that Filipino LGBTs continue to face discrimination, and he seemed astonished that someone as popular as Inday Garutay still experienced bigotry. After the brief chat, he told us to talk to his staff and the Secretary of the Committee on Labor.
We had to wait for him to finish his press conference on the repatriation issue before we had the chance to talk to his staff, who arranged for us a meeting with Sen. Jinggoy’s Chief of Staff, Atty. Simeon Garcia. Atty. Garcia, a former member of the House of Representatives, later asked Ms. Gemma Tanpiengco, Secretary of the Committee on Labor, to join us in the meeting and set a schedule for a Senate hearing on SBN 1738.
The magic date is August 9, 2006. We would not have been able to secure that date without your kind support. Thank you very much.