MANILA -- Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday criticized Senate Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva's remark that SOGIE Equality bill is "not a priority" of the Senate when it resumes session next month.
"It is sheer numbness to say that the SOGIE Equality Bill is not urgent," said Hontiveros, the main champion of the bill in the Senate.
The senator was reacting to Villanueva's statement the previous day saying he "[does] not see any urgency for that particular measure."
The bill is currently pending under Villanueva's Committee on Rules after the Senate earlier this year voted to revert the measure back to first reading following opposition from religious groups.
Prior to that, Hontiveros' panel had already finished its committee report on the bill and was expecting it to be sponsored for plenary discussions.
Villanueva at that time promised that bill would not languish at his committee.
Hontiveros could not help but compare how the Senate swiftly passed the controversial Maharlika bill even if "it was not needed" while the SOGIE bill has been languishing in Congress "for over 2 decades."
"Yung Maharlika bill nga na isang beses lang inihain sa Senado, na hindi naman kailangan sa ngayon, naipasa agad. Bakit yung SOGIE bill na napakatagal nang nandiyan, hinaharangan? The bill has been languishing in Congress for over two decades," Hontiveros lamented.
The first anti-discrimination bill was filed in Congress over 2 decades ago, but has fell short from becoming a law due to stiff resistance from lawmakers and some sectors in the predominantly Christian population.
Hontoveros said that members of the LGBTQIA community, which the SOGIE bill seeks to protect, are "fellow human beings and citizens, too."
"Bigyan natin ng hustisya ang ating mga kababayang hindi malayang nakakapamuhay dahil lang sa kasarian nila... Let us not forget that they are our fellow human beings and citizens, too," she said.