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Thursday, June 27, 2019
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Cabaero: House online poll

Beyond 30

THE House of Representatives started last week an online poll on the question of same-sex marriage.

The poll makes no assurance that the results would guide legislators on their vote, and a survey is not really the best way to get the people’s sentiment because all issues cannot be threshed out in one question with two or three options for an answer.

An online poll is a way to get the public’s opinion. But an online poll can be limiting as only those who take it can have a “voice,” and it can be manipulated as when digital warriors are told to answer the question.

If House members were serious in taking this route of using online tools to measure public sentiment, they should conduct more than an online poll. Technology allows for interaction with an audience beyond an online survey. Legislators can have social media discussions and can do video, infographics or animation to let the public understand the issue. Maps can show the prevailing sentiment per congressional district.

The question posted on the House of Representatives website at www.congress.gov.ph is this: Are you in favor of the proposal in the House of Representatives which legalizes same-sex unions as civil partnership in the country? Voters have three options:

Yes, because this will give equal civil rights to same-sex couples. The bill provides such couples with legal partnership status that will govern their property rights, custodial rights over children and adoption rights.

No, because the underlying intention is to legalize marriage between members of the same sex and I personally believe this is wrong.

I am undecided.

As of 4:20 p.m. Saturday, May 25, 2019, the yes votes reached 204,869 or 52 percent; no totaled 185,704 or 47 percent, and those undecided were 1,789. All votes totaled 392,362.

The timing of the poll is not a surprise. Last May 24, Taiwan became the first Asian country to grant same-sex couples the right to get married. The coming month, June, is also known as World Pride Month that celebrates lesbians, gay people, the bisexual and transgender.

The House bill legalizing civil partnerships whether by same-sex marriage or live-in arrangements was first discussed in 2018. House Bill 6595 authored by then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez seeks to grant these couples the same benefits given to married couples.

The issue reached the Supreme Court when a petition in 2015 asked to nullify provisions of The Family Code of the Philippines which defines and limits marriage as “between man and woman.” Oral arguments before the court in 2018 had then Solicitor General Jose Calida saying same-sex couples can live happily together but they cannot marry, while one justice reportedly was “more inclined” to dismiss the petition.

There is still time to discuss the proposal. Legislators can use an online poll but it does not replace reaching out to constituents to get their sentiment.


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