A SENATOR has filed a bill penalizing discrimination due to race, religion or history behind bars.
Senator Robinhood Ferdinand “Robin” C. Padilla said he filed Senate Bill 233 to protect the rights of all Filipinos by imposing severe penalties against discrimination, including imprisonment for up to eight years and a maximum fine of P1 million.
“Regrettably, it is a reality that differing and adverse treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or even involvement with the justice system still exists in a democratic country like ours,” Mr. Padilla, a Muslim convert and was previously imprisoned for illegal possession of firearms, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Under the bill, discrimination refers to “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference made on the basis of race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion, religious affiliation or beliefs, or being a formerly incarcerated person which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise on an equal footing, of the human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field of public life of a person.”
The bill also covers punishment for incitement to discrimination and harassment.
The proposed measure disallows discrimination in political participation; employment; education and training; sale and delivery of goods and services; acquisition, possession, utilization, lease or disposal of lands, including housing and other accommodations; and access to public places, facilities and public meetings.
Any person, government agency or private entity who assists, authorizes and promotes such discriminatory acts will be held liable. Authorities duty-bound to act on complaints under the act but fail or refuse to do so will also be sanctioned.
If passed, all private and public agencies, corporations, companies, organizations, educational institutions, and training centers must create a non-discrimination and equal opportunity committee, which will conduct an initial investigation of cases. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan