DAVAO CITY—The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) has unanimously approved an ordinance that bans discrimination against members of the third sex, minority groups and differently abled persons.
The ordinance, known as the Anti-Discrimination ordinance, was passed amid reports that members of some sectors in the city were being discriminated against because of the way they act, appear and their being considered members of minority groups.
While the approved ordinance still awaits the signature of Mayor Sara Duterte, it drew applause and commendations from the sectors it was aiming to protect, who trooped to the SP building to witness how councilors voted on it.
Pidot Villocino of Ang Ladlad said the gay community has long been waiting for the passage of the ordinance. “This is a big victory … a landmark legislation,” he said.
Redendo Martinez, chief of the Office of Persons with Disabilities, said he was also grateful for the passage of the ordinance, although the rights of PWDs are already protected and respected under a national law.
“But we are thankful we still have this local ordinance,” Martinez said.
Under the ordinance, people discriminating against individuals because they are lesbians, gays, lumad, Muslim or have disabilities or deformities can be criminally charged.
For first-time offenders, the ordinance imposes a fine of P1,000; P2,000 fine and imprisonment of 10 days for second-time offenders and for those who keep on violating it, will be fined P5,000 and jailed for at least 15 days “or upon the discretion of the court.”
The city is known for its stringent enforcement of ordinances passed by the city council, such as the smoking ban, and the sectors the antidiscrimination ordinance aims to protect said they believe it would also end the days of their being mistreated by other individuals.
Addressing those who attended the session on Wednesday, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said: “While the city will provide you with the legal tool in your struggle for equality and acceptance, it is you and you alone who can earn for yourselves the respect and the dignity that you fight for.”
He said respect only comes for people who are “respectable.”
“If you want to be respected, then be respectable. If you want to be treated with dignity, then act dignified. If you abhor the abuses, which you perceive are heaped upon you, then do not be abusive yourself,” he added.
Duterte said passing an ordinance would not be enough to end the perceived discrimination against some sectors.
“You have to prove to everyone that you deserve the protective arm of the law, otherwise what we will have will be discrimination in reverse,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the session, Duterte said there were indeed cases of discrimination in the city, especially against members of the indigenous communities and the gays.
He said one instance was when a gay was slapped by a woman for entering the rest room for females.
“The gay was feeling like a female. That woman should have considered the human side of it,” Duterte said.
Duterte said these incidents had prompted him to push for the crafting of the ordinance and tasked Councilor Melchor Quitain, former city legal officer, to formulate it.
“We envision a city where everyone similarly circumstanced are similarly treated in rights conferred, opportunities given and obligations imposed,” he said.
Duterte said discrimination has not done anybody good because “it is divisive and a barrier to social integration between and among peoples of different faiths, beliefs, sexual orientations, physical attributes and discordant loyalties.”
Discrimination breeds contempt and contempt leads to hatred and oftentimes, violent confrontations, he added.
“I hate discrimination and I loathe bigotry,” he said.
Duterte warned the public against taking the ordinance lightly. Ayan C. Mellejor, Inquirer Mindanao