Poll exec: 'To be moral is not old-fashioned'

by Rey Santos Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Nov 16 2009 11:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 17 2009 07:44 AM

In this article:
  • Comelec stands by its decision to reject 'Ang Ladlad' accreditation
  • Commissioners admit that biases were involved when they made decision
  • CHR, Ang Ladlad to contest the ruling

Gays are already 'over-represented' in the House

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) stands firm on its decision to deny a gay organization accreditation for the party list, even after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) sided with the incensed members of the “third sex.”  

In response to the CHR’s comment that the poll body’s ruling on Ang Ladlad (literally, The Coming Out) “smacks of prejudice and discrimination,” Comelec commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said there was nothing “retrogressive” in it.  

Ferrer, along with commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, on grounds the group “tolerates immorality,” last week rejected Ang Ladlad’s petition to participate in the party-list elections and be hopefully represented in the lower chamber of Congress.  

In its petition for accreditation, the group claims to represent lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans-genders.

It defined its sector’s sexual orientation as capable of “profound emotional, affectional, and sexual orientation to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender, of the same gender, or more than one gender.”  

Thus, the Comelec ruling that the group would be “exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith.”  

Penal code applied

“In using my judgement in cases like this, of course I have to resort to my past experiences,” Ferrer said about his being Catholic.  

The commissioners came under fire from the CHR for citing provisions in the Bible and the Koran, sacred books of the Christians and the Muslims, respectively, to stress its argument that “petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs.”  

Ferrer said the use of verses from the holy books was necessary, as they “give us guidelines on how to behave morally.”  

“To be moral is not old-fashioned,” he said, in response to Ang Ladlad head Danton Remoto’s comment that Ferrer is “a very old man with obsolete ideas.”  

Ferrer said that the decision may have been “medieval,” but it is definitely not a violation of human rights, as he assured that the provisions in the Revised Penal Code are well incorporated in the decision.

“We're applying the law as it is,” he said.  

Gay lawmakers?

Ferrer also said that the Comelec did not present “unequal protection of law” with its decision. According to him, there are no other petitions similar to Ang Ladlad’s, hence the group is not being singled out.  

Besides, Ferrer said, there is no need for Ang Ladlad to join the party list because its sector is not under-represented. “Actually, [they are] over represented in the Upper and Lower House,” he said.  

To this, Remoto replied: “Is it correct to out gays who want to keep themselves in the closet?” he said.  

Remoto said the commissioners’ use of scriptures “as props for legal arguments” is “not the proper way to argue. They should have defended their own opinion the legal way.”

He said their religious biases came into play in deciding on Ang Ladlad’s petition.

He said Ferrer is a Eucharistic minister in Pangasinan, Tagle is a director of Christian Family Movement in Cubao, and Yusoph is a Muslim imam (which means "leader").  

Welcome intervention

Ferrer said that they are ready for interventions from groups like CHR “to give them full opportunity to express their views.”

The Comelec, according to him, though, has to look at the “interests” of petitioning parties to see if there are “reasons other than a valid purpose.”  

He said the gay group is seeking accreditation only to create a vehicle “to separate themselves from the mainstream. Do they want to impose their will against the majority?”  

Remoto said Ferrer has to recourse but to accept the CHR’s intervention because he could be impeached if he doesn’t.

Remoto said the anti torture law states that government officials who are found violating human rights will be subject to impeachment proceedings.  

Ang Ladlad will be filing a petition to both Comelec and the Supreme Court this week in able to catch up with the December 1 deadline of filing of candidacies.  

The commissioner said only 30% of all appeals for reconsideration are approved, and the poll body is not giving preferences to any group. Report by Rey Santos Jr., Newsbreak.