By Ranie Azue
Discrimination against any person due to gender, disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion is a prohibited act in Bacolod City that entails a penalty of P5,000 and or imprisonment of not more than one year depending upon the discretion of the court.
This was stressed by Councilor Em Ang, author of the ordinance that was approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod last Tuesday, as she claimed that the law intends to promote equality among the people of Bacolod and eliminate all forms of discrimination.
Ang said the implementation of the ordinance seeks to eliminate discrimination and abuse and ensure equality among all sectors of society including the protection of the rights of persons with disability, senior citizens, women and children.
It also aims to promote gender consciousness, she added.
“Stigma and discrimination is still very much prevalent especially with persons with disability, senior citizens, children, youth, people living with HIV, women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and people with different spiritual faith,” Ang said.
She said that listed under discriminatory acts are denying a person access to any social or health program and service, and admission to an educational institution, or imposing expulsion.
Also considered as violations are to use disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity and religion in the criteria for hiring, promotion and dismissal of workers and in determining employee’s compensation, including the terms and conditions of employment unless otherwise necessary and inherent with the position.
The ordinance also prohibits verbal or non-verbal ridicule and vilification, including but not limited to, bullying or hate speeches, the councilor said.
The Bacolod City Government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordination with the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC), the Bacolod City Gender and Development Council (BC GADC), Local Council for the Filipino Family (LCFF) and the Office of Persons with Disability Affairs (OPDA), the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) and the Local AIDS Council shall implement and institutionalize the said programs, Ang also added.
Ang explained that a Technical Working Group shall formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations, identify the activities and programs to be conducted under the Anti-Discrimination Programs and recommend measures for the proper implementation of the ordinance.
The councilor further stressed that any complaint shall first be lodged in the barangay concerned provided that both parties are living in the same barangay, otherwise the case shall be filed in the court for appropriate action.
The passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance carries with it the burden of educating the public on its provisions so as to achieve its aim of promoting not only tolerance but respect for individuals, Ang pointed out./WDJ