Passage of Sogie bill not urgent – Villanueva
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva sees no urgency in passing a proposed measure penalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (Sogie).
The Sogie bill has made little headway since it was first filed 23 years ago.
Now in the 19th Congress, it remains pending at the Senate committee level for nearly four months since it was referred back to the Rules committee panel headed by Villanueva.
This took place even if the measure had already secured the approval of the chamber’s committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.
This situation takes place, despite the fact that the measure already secured the approval of the chamber’s committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.
Asked on Tuesday to flesh out the developments of the Senate bill, Villanueva said, “I don’t know who is following it up or saying it is a priority measure because it is not, to begin with.”
The legislator pointed out that members of his committee had also submitted letters and aired reservations about the Sogie bill.
“I don’t see any urgency for that particular measure,” he said.
Villanueva then began listing measures that Congress would prioritize for the second regular session in July.
Among these bills are the proposed Philippine Salt Industry Development Act, the Automatic Income Classification of Local Government Units Act, and the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.
All of these bills are listed as priority bills of the Marcos administration, but these are not referred to the Senate rules committee.
“These are all in plenary, and I believe, like what I hear from my colleagues as their majority leader, these are the priority measures we need to act upon once Congress returns,” Villanueva said partly in Filipino.
He also renewed the push for an anti-discrimination bill that would cover all sectors under its umbrella, instead of limiting it to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community.
Villanueva explained that a comprehensive anti-discrimination measure “is more encompassing and covers discrimination based on age, sex, civil status, color, economic status, ethnicity, medical condition, physical disability, political opinion or affiliation, race or religious belief.”
He also said seven lawmakers, including Senator Imee Marcos, are already pushing for this approach.
“And I am supportive of it. It doesn’t need to be just one sector. Why not include everyone when you talk about anti-discrimination? Other people get discriminated against too,” the legislator added.
Villanueva is the son of Jesus Is Lord Church founder and incumbent Cibac party-list representative Eddie Villanueva, who had previously disrupted House deliberations on the Sogie bill.
Unlike the measure’s journey in the Senate, the Sogie bill is already inching forward in the House of Representatives.
It already secured the nod of the House women and gender equality panel in May.