CHR backs anti–discrimination bill

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) gave its nod to the Senate Bill 1081 also known as "Anti-religious and Ethnic Stereotyping Act" recently after keen review.

On the Commission's position paper, chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales along with the commissioners stated the bill is "a very important bill and in full accord with the provisions of various international treaties on the elimination of religious and/or ethnic discrimination, the 1987 Philippine Constitution and other pertinent domestic laws."

They further stated, "It is in such context that the Commission is strongly supporting and recommending the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 1081 as this bill, if it becomes a law, will provide the 'missing link' in our fight against stereotyping and discrimination."

The Commission submitted its position paper as per request of the proponent of the bill, Senator Francis Escudero.

The bill aims to eradicate discrimination because of ethnic origin and religion like the current discriminations between Christians and Muslims. The bill also aims to erase name – calling of certain ethnic origins like calling Cordillerans as "Igorots with tails"; and foreign nationals calling Filipinos as "Indios", "Negritos", half-civilized, worthless, uneducated, and unscrupulous.

Discrimination in the country started during the Spanish colonization up to the American regime. The colonizers used to call Filipinos as "Indios", "idiots", "negritos", and barbaric people, among others.

"It is sad but true that even in these modern times, discrimination, racial or religious, still persists. One case in point is the discrimination of Muslims, also racially tagged as 'Moros' on the ground of their Islamic belief and ethnic affiliation. Some Muslims are indiscriminately tagged as members of the terrorist groups, Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah, just because they have surnames and/or aliases similar to those suspected terrorists," read the position paper.

The right against discrimination is based on the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Specifically, the Constitution provides that "the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights." The catch-all constitutional provision against discrimination is found on the Bill of Rights, to wit: "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Another important provision states that "the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed."

Once the bill will be passed into law, Cordillerans can soon charge people calling them as "Igorots with tails" or "headhunters."

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 11, 2013.

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