Press Release
May 11, 2011

Legarda Pushes for Stronger Efforts, Strict Penalties Against Racial
and Religious Discrimination

Senator Loren Legarda today said she is hopeful that there will be lesser cases of discrimination in the Philippine society and that all Filipinos, regardless of their racial, ethnic or religious affiliation, will be treated equally through the proposed Anti-Discrimination Act.

"Our Constitution provides that the State has the mandate to protect any person - an all-encompassing term that applies equally to all human beings, regardless of their racial, ethnic or religious affiliation. We even entered into various international commitments to end racial discrimination including the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. Despite this, we remain a nation that throws all forms of bias and prejudice at those who we perceive to be 'different' from the majority," she stressed.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, is set to sponsor the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2011, which seeks to promote a society that values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights regardless of race, religion and ethnicity.

This measure will penalize acts of discrimination in the following fields: employment, education, delivery of goods and services, accommodation, media, and in search and investigatory activities.

A person who is found guilty shall serve between nine months and twelve years in prison, and/or will be obliged to pay between Php100,000 to Php500,000.

Furthermore, agencies, corporations, companies and educational institutions, whether private or public, shall be mandated to create an Equal Opportunity Committee, which shall have administrative jurisdiction over cases involving discrimination and racial profiling.

The Commission on Human Rights, in coordination with other concerned agencies, will provide for the procedures for the resolution, settlement, or prosecution of acts of discrimination and racial profiling as well as the creation of Equal Opportunity Committees.

"We need an effective and comprehensive legal framework if we are to start the fight against discrimination and racial profiling. We must build a nation where each individual's beliefs and principles are respected and everyone is given equal opportunity to achieve his full potential as a person and as a Filipino citizen," Legarda concluded.

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