First Sogie bill hearing in Villanueva-led Senate panel eyed next week
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has set his sights on holding the rules panel’s first hearing on the controversial bill seeking to outlaw discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation, gender, identity and expression (Sogie) next week.
On Friday, Villanueva, who chairs the Senate rules committee, said they are trying to pin down a schedule for the closed-door hearing which, he noted, will still depend on the availability of other senators who want to be physically present in the discussion.
“We are talking to our members. We’re scheduling a hearing, hopefully, by next week,” Villanueva told reporters.
He made mention of a discussion he had with senators Alan Cayetano and Imee Marcos, where they talked about the idea of merging the Sogie bill with the anti-discrimination bill.
“Until now, iyon iyong ipinagtataka natin doon sa ilang mga kaibigan natin sa LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and more). Iyong karamihan naman na na kausap natin, okay sila na pagsama-samahin–holistic,” the senator said.
(Until now, that still makes us wonder since many of the LGBTQ+ we spoke with are okay with fusing the bills to make it more holistic.)
He then called it “unfair” to say he was playing a hand in delaying the Sogie bill from advancing in the upper chamber.
“Under our rules, kapag may mga usapin na kailangan pang pag-usapan, new matters arising to the particular committee report, pwede po pag-usapan ito sa committee on rules,” he explained.
(Under our rules, when there are things that still need to be discussed, new matters arising to the particular committee report, it can still be discussed.)
In December 2022, the Senate panels on women, children, family relations and gender equality, and finance filed its committee report on the proposed Sogie Act, but it was not discussed in the plenary for the second reading.
During a Senate session in February, Villanueva–with piles of letters from religious groups that claimed they were not consulted about the bill–moved to refer the proposed measure to his committee.
It has been 23 long years since the first version of the Sogie bill was filed in Philippine Congress, but members of the LGBTQ+ community remain unfazed and firmly rooted in their bid to champion inclusive laws no matter how long it may take. – With reports from MJ Soriano, INQUIRER.net trainee