Anti-discrimination bill should be a priority – Angara

AFTER hearing the sentiments of Muslims in Maguindanao, a lawmaker is pushing for the immediate passage of a bill prohibiting racial, ethnic and religious discrimination.

“It is high time for us to mandate the protection of citizens against all forms of discriminatory acts in order to promote equal protection and to eliminate stereotypes and prejudices,” said Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara during the 18th anniversary of the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao last Dec. 15, 2012.

Angara is a co-author of House Bill No. 4807 or The Anti-Racial, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination Act.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have already approved the anti-discrimination bill on third and final reading in 2011, but have yet to consolidate the two versions of the measure.

In the bicameral conference committee meeting, both chambers of Congress will reconcile the conflicting versions of Senate Bill No. 2814 and H.B. 4807. Both versions penalize profiling and the acts of discrimination against persons on account of ethnic origin and religious affiliation and belief.

What makes the Senate bill different from that of the House is the inclusion of provisions said to cover the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) sector.

“This bill aims to strengthen the protection clause on the right of the people to human dignity which is already enshrined in the Constitution. By ensuring equal treatment for all, it is hoped that this legislation will foster peace in the country, with emphasis on Mindanao where Muslims constitute a large portion of the population,” Angara said.

“The recent forging of a peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a clear indication of how passionate our brothers and sisters from Mindanao are about their freedom, including their freedom from being discriminated,” he added.

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