The House committee on appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1stDistrict, Davao City) approved a substitute bill seeking to prohibit acts of discrimination such as involving distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin, religion, or religious affiliation.
The committee approved the substitute bill after amending the funding provision of the measure which provides that the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) shall include in the CHR’s program the implementation of the Act, the initial funding of which shall be charged against the current CHR budget. Thereafter, the amount necessary for the continued implementation of the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The unnumbered bill titled “Anti-Racial, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination Act” substituted House Bills 491, 576, 3468 and 3895 authored by Reps. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, Jose Panganiban, Shernee Abubakar Tan and Evelina Escudero, respectively.
The committee on human rights chaired by Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (2nd District, Zambales) endorsed the bill to the appropriations committee. Deloso-Montalla said the measure in general seeks to promote a society that values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion.
“The bill is also the fulfilment of our international commitment under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination to ensure its full application in our national legal system through the creation of a domestic law with appropriate penal provisions,” said Deloso-Montalla.
The bill declares it is the policy of the State, as enshrined in the Constitution, to maintain peace and order, protect life, liberty and property, and to promote the general welfare for the enjoyment of the blessings of democracy by all people.
It is also the policy of the State to uphold human dignity and equality of all persons, regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity or religion, consistent with its obligations as State Party to various international human rights instruments, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. As such, the State shall not allow the commission of acts which directly or indirectly derogate these fundamental human rights.
The bill refers to discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or reference made on the basis of race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion, or religious affiliation or beliefs 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. Discrimination also includes incitement to discriminate and harassment.”
The bill prohibits the following acts: discrimination in political participation; discrimination in employment; discrimination in education and training; discrimination in the delivery of goods and services; discrimination in land, business and other accommodation; discrimination in access to public places, facilities and public meetings; discrimination in advertisements/mass media; discrimination by wrongful portrayal; discrimination through speech, utterances, acts of hatred and similar act; discrimination through analogous acts that result in impairment of the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; discrimination through engaging in profiling; and discrimination through abuses of State and non-State actors.
It provides there is vicarious liability if any employee or agent of a person does an act of discrimination in connection with his or her duties as an employee or agent, the act is taken to be done because of the person’s race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious affiliation or beliefs.
Unless established that the person took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee or agent from doing the discriminatory act, then that person shall be liable of unlawful act under this provision.
The measure mandates the CHR, in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), to prevent or deter the commission on acts of discrimination and to assist, review and recommend procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of discrimination.
It provides that any person liable under the Act shall be penalized with arresto mayor or imprisonment for a period of 30 to 60 days and/or a fine of P10,000 to P100,000, taking into consideration the circumstances and gravity of the offenses and circumstances.