Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A "queer-y" over Comelec's decision to junk Ang Ladlad

Some sectors are questioning the "propriety" of the Comelec's second division's decision to junk Ang Ladlad's partylist accreditation. The resolution, penned by no less than the division's chief, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, was the second time the COMELEC junked the accreditation bid. On the first try, the COMELEC did, indeed, rendered a judicious one---Ang Ladlad's constituency, though huge, is not a sector. Hence, it should not be allowed to participate in the elections.

And Comelec's decision was, in all intents and purposes, right. If you look at how our jurisdiction defines a "sector", you'll notice that "sectors" are defined based on either social or economic lines or even physical incapacity. And the Constitution and Section 5 of Republic Act 7941, the act known as the Partylist Law, specifically states these sectors as labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

Do you see anything close to homosexual or lesbians being considered as a sector? Did the State actually consider homosexuals or gays as a "sector"?

Now, what others contend is that Ang Ladlad's constituency falls under the term "marginalized and underrepresented" which is one criteria an applicant needs to justify as stated in Section 1 of RA 7941. Ang Ladlad's contention is, it seems that the Comelec rendered a decision purely based on "hysteria" or "homophobia".

That term "marginalized and under-represented" defines the status of a particular sector, not a definition of a sector. For if the contrary is the case, any Tom, Dick and Harry can claim to be "marginalized" despite being a multi-billionaire (that applies in the case of Manny Villar). Or, probably a group of Customs brokers can always claim to be "under-represented".

The author of the law, Senator Ed Angara, knew that RA 7941 would be subject to abuse and many, especially those who are friendly with this administration, already abused, even slapped Angara in the face many times.

That said, the law is specific---these are the sectors who deserve equal representation in Congress--labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals.

Now, let's go to the meat of this entry---is the homosexual or gay community to be considered a "sector"?

Homosexuality, is at best, a gender issue. Some say, if you're gay, you are born gay. Others, well say, it is a lifestyle.

Now, let's see---do you find a sector which was included in the law based on gender? You say woman, right? Why is it that women are defined as a sector, when homosexuals or gays are not?

The reason is quite obvious---Filipina women are considered a sector based not on their gender but on their economic status. They are underprivileged. They are being abused by the system.

Now, you say, that applies also to the gay community. A big chunk of the population who are gay are underprivileged and not being given equal economic opportunities.

The problem is, and this is admitted by Ang Ladlad, that homosexuality prevails in almost all defined sectors stated in the law as "under-represented" and "marginalized". They are gay laborers, homosexuals in the youth sector, elderly gays, and what have you. To be defined as a "sectoral" organization, Ang Ladlad should specifically satisfy the requirements of the law expressed in Article 6, Section 5(2), of the 1987 Constitution (as stated in Vitug's dissenting opinion in Ang Bagong Bayani vs. Comelec (14759).

Yes, homosexuals do occupy a pervasive influence over Filipino society. They are a big group. They share commonality of "attributes or characteristics, employment, interests or concerns". Yet, they are not yet considered a sector, as what the Constitution says.

Being big, or having millions of voters as members does not qualify a group or a particular gender choice as a "sector".

Now, Ang Ladlad should be made to realize that their fight is not with the Comelec. This fight should actually be shifted from the desk of a mere Commission to Congress.

Let Congress decide if they will include homosexuals among those defined as a "sector". Pressure Congress to declare the homosexual or gay community as a sector. Then, file the appropriate petition again before the Comelec and surely, Ang Ladlad will definitely win.