MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—A transgender woman was detained by police in Quezon City Tuesday afternoon after a scuffle with a mall personnel for using the female comfort room.
Gretchen Custodio Diez, 28, was later released Tuesday night after the mall's management dropped the unjust vexation complaint against her.
She will instead file a complaint against the shopping mall for violating a 2014 city ordinance, which makes it illegal for business establishments to discriminate people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.
"I will still fight for what is right 'yung violation against sa city ordinance sa Quezon City. Papatunayan natin sa lahat na may pangil ang batas na may karapatan po tayo na gamitin at magkaroon ng access sa pampublikong lugar," she said.
"It should not happen in Quezon City. It should not happen anywhere in the Philippines," she added.
Diez, a human resource director of a call center company, told ABS-CBN News she was barred by a janitress from using the women's comfort room.
"Sabi niya sa'kin, 'Ma'am, huwag po kayo diyan, sa lalaki po kayo,'" she said.
Diez called out the alleged harassment and recorded the incident on Facebook, which irked the janitress.
She was dragged to the administration security office.
"'Ito nagsi-CR ito sa babae, gustong mag-CR sa babae.' Sinisigaw po niya doon," she said.
"Tas tinapik po niya 'yung cellphone ko 3 beses. Sabi po niya sakin, 'Ansarap sampalin ng mukha mo, bakla ka kasi,'" she added.
Diez said she documented the incident because she felt they ganged up on her.
"Nag-start na akong mag-live dun sa security office nila kasi po parang pinagtutulungan na po nila ako," she said.
"Wala po akong kasama, feeling ko walang maniniwala sakin lalo na po sa mga discrimination. Kaya po nag-live ako para sana may makatulong," she added.
She was handcuffed and brought to Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 7.
'TAO LANG PO'
Following the incident, the janitress wrote an apology letter to Diez.
"Tao lang po ako, hindi ko po sinasadya na ma-offend siya. Wiling po akong pag-aralan ang mga karapatan ng LGBT," she said.
She also said the shopping mall, which has yet to issue an official statement regarding the incident, lacks a clear restroom policy for transgender people.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros condemned the harassment of Diez.
"This is unacceptable. A lawyer from my office is with Gretchen now. She has my full support. I am extending whatever help she would need to seek justice," she said.
"She is being harassed for living her truth. Discrimination against transgender people has to stop!"
The Philippine Anti Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) called on the Quezon City government to enforce the city ordinance.
"In 2014, the Quezon City Government affirmed its commitment to protect the rights of all people against discrimination when it passed and anti-discrimination ordinance. While we laud the existence of such measures, it is disheartening to see that discrimination still exists in Quezon City," the group said.
"We fully assert that Ms. Diez has every right to use the ladies' room and the violence she faced was unnecessary. We call on the Quezon City Government to enforce its anti-discrimination ordinance to its full power to safeguard the right of everyone against any and every form of discrimination, including those on the basis of one's SOGIESC."
Quezon City Councilor Mayen Juico reminded business establishments to impose the gender-fair city ordinance.
The ordinance also requires establishments to create gender-neutral restrooms.
Following her release, Diez thanked everyone for supporting her.
"Thank you for the overwhelming support. 'Di po natin ihihinto ang laban," she said.—With reports from Jervis Manahan and Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News