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Letter to Philippines Congress
Honorable Guillermo A. Romarate, Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights
Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Chairperson of the Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development Committee
Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara, Senate Bill Author
Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Senate Bill Author
Senator Grace L. Poe, Senate Bill Author
Honorable Kaka J. Bag-ao, House of Representatives Bill Author
Honorable Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., House of Representatives Bill Author
Honorable Ibarra “Barry” M. Gutierrez III, House of Representatives Bill Author
Commission on Human Rights
His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President of the Philippines
Dear Representatives and Senators,
We are writing to you as members of the international human rights community to urge you to move forward with immediate deliberation and passage of a Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill that is currently before the Philippines Congress.
We understand that there are presently several comprehensive anti-discrimination bills filed in the Senate and at the House of Representatives. All of these bills would ensure comprehensive protections against discrimination in employment, education, healthcare, and access to public facilities on the basis of age, ethnicity, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, and health and HIV status.
Enacting a comprehensive anti-discrimination law strengthens the Philippines commitment to the right to freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Articles 2 and 7 and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 2 and 26, both of which were ratified by the Philippines.
The goal of human rights and civil rights measures is to protect all persons equally, without distinction or discrimination. The bills before you in Congress prohibit abuse and discrimination currently experienced by Indigenous Peoples (IPs), persons with disability (PWDs), persons living with HIV, religious minorities, the elderly, youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. These bills advance the promise of the universality of human rights that are not "new rights" or "special rights" but rather promote and protect human dignity of the most vulnerable groups in society. These bills acknowledge and seek to publicize and prevent violations that are hidden, under-reported, and often go on unchecked due to the many layers of vulnerability that marginalized groups face.
The House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development are given a rare opportunity to fulfill an obligation of the Philippines to honor its commitments to international human rights law and the Philippines Constitution, and we urge you to enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination measure immediately.
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