MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday asked about the status of the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) bill over 2 months after she submitted the committee report on the contentious measure.
"In December of last year, I was ready to sponsor the committee report on SOGIE bill. Perbrero na ngayon at tinatanong na sa akin ng mga miyembro ng LGBTQIA community... Anyare na sa bill? Bakit daw hindi pa ito inii-sponsor. We want to know what is happening," Hontiveros said in her manifestation during the chamber's afternoon session.
(It's already February and members of the LGBTQIA community are asking me, 'What happened to the bill? Why is it not being sponsored?)
Hontiveros said as of last update, 19 senators voted to revert the committee report to the committee on women to hold further hearings.
The senator pointed to Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva as the one who initiated the move.
"I've been made to understand that the good Majority Leader has obtained 19 signatures to remand the committee report... because a number of pastors and bishops still want to speak. That was a couple of weeks ago," she lamented.
Hontiveros said she was willing to conduct more hearings even though several evangelical groups already "actively participated" in the earlier meetings.
"I have no illusions that this bill will sail through this chamber quickly... What I was not ready for is for this bill to be in some kind of limbo," she said.
In response, Villanueva highlighted the Senate's rule allowing committee reports to be reverted back to the panel.
"We are governed by rules. Section 32... [allows] further committee hearings on new issues arising after the report [was made]," he said.
The SOGIE bill is the top priority measure of Hontiveros for the 19th Congress. Her committee held its first hearing on the measure last Sept. 19.
The SOGIE bill has been languishing in Congress for decades and faced opposition from conservative groups.