Bill seeks to outlaw discrimination

SENATOR Juan Edgardo Angara has filed a bill seeking to prohibit discrimination in the country.

"It is the policy of the state to work actively for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that offends the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights, and the State's obligations under human rights instruments acceded to by the Republic of the Philippines," said Angara, author of Senate Bill 2475 or the proposed Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act.

The bill eyes to avert discrimination on the basis of age, ethnic origin, religious belief, political conviction, social class sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, disability, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, health status, language, and physical features.

Angara said indigenous people continue to experience abuses involving arbitrary detention, persecution, killing of community representatives, coercion, torture, demolition of houses, involuntary displacements, rape, and disruption of their rights to food and shelter.

He also noted that several senior citizens are deprived to work despite the law's mandate for the government to provide employment opportunities to the elderly who have the capacity and desire to work or be re-employed.

An International Labor Organization study in 2012 showed that unemployment rates among women in the country are consistently higher than men.

Another ILO study also showed around two million Filipino children were exposed to hazardous working environments, such as quarries and mines.

"These are but selected instances of how discrimination persists in Philippine society, which this measure aims to address and reduce," he said.

Any person, natural or judicial, including government agencies or any private corporation who commits discrimination shall be held liable, according to the bill.

Any action, however, shall not be considered as discrimination if there are genuine occupational qualifications, inherent requirement and if it conforms to the doctrines of the relevant religion practices and is done in good faith.

The Commission on Human Rights may impose a fine of up to P20,000 against private persons for everyday that the act of discrimination complaint persists.

The national government shall implement social protection measures for communities affected by and vulnerable to stigma and discrimination.

Angara said all government agencies, private companies, and public and private educational institution and other firms shall establish diversity programs to ensure that discrimination are prevented. (Sunnex)

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