The Long View: Comelec lays down case for persecution

The Long View
Comelec lays down case for persecution
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:14:00 11/16/2009

THERE is no point arguing the merits of the Comelec’s decision to deny Ang Ladlad recognition as a party-list group. That is because there are none. The paper produced and signed by Commissioners Nicodemus Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph is a religious tract masquerading as a legal document. However, it has legal consequences and that requires examination – and opposition.

The Comelec commissioners’ faith-based opinion now enjoys the presumption of legality and it continues what the Comelec began in 2007, that is, to deny Ang Ladlad the opportunity to seek a mandate from the electorate. While no one in their right mind considers the Comelec commissioners’ decision to be worth the paper it’s printed on, the Comelec decision requires Ang Ladlad to go through the process of appeals and possibly fight things out all the way to the Supreme Court – by which time it will be the eve of the 2013 elections. By which time a case would have been built for ordering the arrest of members and supporters of Ang Ladlad, of Danton Remoto and even the publishers of his works.

This is the ultimate, ambitious, objective: to crush Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) associations before they manage to establish a troubling precedent in electoral politics.

The commissioners are bound by law to reject a petition to be recognized as a party list on several specific grounds. The grounds for rejection it chose are two: that Ang Ladlad “violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections” and that it “declares untruthful statements in its petition.”

Per the Comelec, Ang Ladlad lied. How did it lie? By “not being truthful when it said that it ‘or any of its nominees/party-list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws, rules, or regulations relating to the elections.'” How did it violate the law? The group, said the commissioners, by defining sexual identity as referring “to a person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender, of the same gender, or more than one gender,” proposed a sexual spectrum not only not to the liking of the commissioners but, according to them, advocated a spectrum not tolerated by Christianity or Islam and therefore, impermissibly deviant from the normal understanding of public morals.

The Comelec commissioners themselves referred to Title Six (Crimes against Public Morals) of the Penal Code, specifically Chapter II covering “Offenses against Decency and Good Customs,” particularly the following provisions:

Art. 201. Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows.- The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon: (1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals; (2) (a) the authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the owners/operators of the establishment selling the same; (b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place, exhibit, indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by virtue hereof, shall include those which i. glorify criminals or condone crimes; ii. serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography; iii. offend any race or religion; iv. tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and v. are contrary to law, public order, morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts; (3) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals.

So what the Comelec is attempting to do is to lay the basis for the proscription, or banning, of groups like Ang Ladlad by making them liable to prosecution under the Revised Penal Code as criminal deviants. This would be under the following provision:

Art. 147. Illegal associations.The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon the founders, directors, and presidents of associations totally or partially organized for the purpose of committing any of the crimes punishable under this Code or for some purpose contrary to public morals. Mere members of said associations shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor.

Nonetheless, some will argue, the law may be harsh, but it is the law: but that is to grant a particular interpretation that may have been valid in 1930 but does not reflect what society considers permissible or what medical science itself no longer considers an illness.

I have repeatedly questioned the relevance of the Revised Penal Code because it has many provisions that deserve serious re-examination in light of the many changes in society that have taken place since the law was passed in 1930 – and amended over the decades since.

The provisions on vagrancy, for example, have often been used as a pretext for persecuting sexual minorities. In other countries, the manner in which similar laws have been used for extortion by the police has led to the reexamination and, in many cases, the scrapping of such easy-to-abuse regulations.

Only an affected minority can be expected to take the lead in daring to question such laws. And here lies the necessity of ensuring these minorities never acquire the status of being a recognized, organized and represented party list: they might actually succeed in modernizing the law to reflect the true, public consensus on permissible public and private behavior – exposing Ferrer and friends as the true deviants.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

71 thoughts on “The Long View: Comelec lays down case for persecution

  1. While Catholicism frowns upon homosexuality because it is considered be contrary to the natural law, wherein sex is used for procreation, it is far more tolerant to gays than other religions. Islam, for example, comdemns and opposes homosexuality vehemently. Muslims prefer to use the word “sodomizer” to “homosexual”, alluding to God’s destruction of Sodom because of rampant homosexuality.

  2. The Commission on Human Rights is already on our side, and we have no doubt the Supreme Court will rule in our favor.

    Our rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    To the homophobes out there, we are sorry for your children if they turn out to be gay or lesbian. But your children will have groups like Ang Ladlad who will fight their rights which their parents in their intolerance and hatred deny of them.

    To the homophobes out there, you join the ranks of haters in history that include people who were for slavery, for apartheid, for anti-Semitism. For people who voted against women’s suffrage.

    You will be proved wrong.

  3. “To the homophobes out there, we are sorry for your children if they turn out to be gay or lesbian.”-Carlito

    Carlito, why are you sorry? That’s discrimination against your own group. I’m a homophobe so if my son turns out to be gay I’ll be sorry. But, you, you should rejoice. Shame.

  4. @ramrod

    1. “By standards, I believe I know what I mean. Standards of excellence, empirical, and measurable, being productive, meeting or exceeding what is expected.” This more fits an argument that pertains to work. It’s now hard to follow your arguments ramrod. You never used standards to imply this…read how you use it in this phrase”normal standards of civility and decency”.

    Standard used in this way is not the “objective” standard that you defined as being “empirical” and “measurable”. There is no such thing as an “empirical” and “measurable” standards of civility and decency. If there is please show it to me.

    2. “You can sound intelligent or pretend to sound intelligent but the bottomline is all that matters. You come into this world behaving as if society owes you a living, wallow in persecution complex, whimper and whine.”

    Your persistent use of “you” here can be so unnerving. Rather than using this kind of argument, can we stick to facts and things that we have intimate knowledge of? I notice that this is a common tactic for people who doesn’t have anything say but just want to say something. Have I attacked you in this way to merit such ad hominems.

    How dare you call someone immature if you’re the one who, by judging from your ad hominems arguments, resorts to bullying tactics? Is that a mature thing to do? Please enlighten me.

    3. “Maybe you’re still young and immature, believe me, society, humanity is both benevolent and cruel, for as long as you behave in a manner that does not harm, disturb others intentionally, its okay. If you conform to normal standards of civility and decency, there’s nothing wrong…”

    I do feel that humanity is both benevolent and cruel; after all, there’s no such thing as a one-sided coin. However, there are a lot of instances when society mistreat people who are simply different – this is a well-documented fact.

    Society doesn’t owe me a living but society must be fertile ground for the flourishing of one’s individuality.

    4. “as long as you scream vulgarities in language and in appearance, and not behave as proper role models for our youth in the name of freedom of expression, you will be treated as you deserved, with disdain…”

    Let the youth decide for themselves who their role models are. It’s very condescending for us to assume that the youth doesn’t know who is worthy of their appreciation.

  5. @ ramrod

    You wrote:
    “You come into this world behaving as if society owes you a living, wallow in persecution complex, whimper and whine.”

    Not all LGBT supporters are socialists or fans of affirmative action type legislation. Nor is it clear that egalitarian type legislation will provide all the answers. In fact, I expect the negative consequences are significant.

    The battle is best won when LGBT wins the hearts and minds of the people as individuals within the community that are accepted for their differences and appreciated for their contributions.

    It’s wise to be vigilent in assessing the potential dangers of political movements, Ang Ladlad included. But I think concern over their impact on morality is a red-herring.

  6. It is sad that a constitutional commission like COMELEC whose officials have practiced law for at least 8 years have literally abandoned the separation of church and state and become the enforcer of the Church.

    They have forgotten that Philippines is a signatory of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which requires that all are equal under the law and entitled to equal protection under the law without discrimination.

    The Comelec decision is a bill of attainder which is clearly prohibited under the Philippine Constitution. Bill of Attainder is finding guilt or imposition on specific group without actual commission of a crime. The Comelec presumes that LADLAD violated Title Six which made it a bill of attainder.

    There is not single case in the Philippine justice system that a homosexual was found guilty by the court on reason of title six. So far, the convicted felons against title six are from heterosexual group (like Congresman Jalosjos).

  7. Apparently, there are laws encoded that the Ang Ladlad membership and supporters would want to undo. In the meanwhile, AngLadlad and their members consistently violate these laws.

    The next action then can be to reward AngLadlad for violating encoded laws. Another would be for Miriam Santiago and Ruffy Biazon, Mar Roxas and NoyNoy Aquino and the various congressmen from Laguna and Sorsogon and others to pass a law to supersede the laws that AngLadlad violate. Surely, there are other options, simply because Pinas with its millions of voters will have at least five different approaches to the matter.

  8. Commissioner Ferrer and others are blinded by their faith. So far the largest purveyor of porn and users of porn are straight people, not the homosexuals. The largest distributor of drugs and user of drugs are again the straight people, not the homosexuals. You can visit any jail and it is easy to find that straight people are criminals, not the homosexuals. And who are the sexual abuser of children? Again, the straight people including priests. Yes, priests who hide in the cover of religion. And who are the serial violators of public morals? They are straight people with open affairs in the public with bigamy and concubinage, etc. And priests too (not to mention the Church in amassing wealth contrary to the Christ’s teaching).

    It is one huge hypocrisy.

    Comelec commissioners should re-examine their head.

  9. Upn on, “AngLadlad and their members consistently violate these laws.”

    There is no public record of such violations. It is all made up in the mind of Comelec officials.

    As always, the high court can stop the error by the Comelec.

  10. Brian B on, “Anyway, you need a stronger “other sex” group than Ang Ladlad. More to the point: a broad anti-discrimination law.”

    There is no need. It is enough to show that for the same set of requirements and granted accreditation, LADLAD upon compliance was denied of -as a basis of discrimination.

  11. Brian B on, “That penal Code I think can only be changed through a constitutional amendment.”

    Or it can be struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.

    But far from it, the Comelec had not proven that LADLAD had indeed violated Title Six. The violation is presumed, not actual which is the issue before High Court rather than the constitutionality of Title Six.

  12. Brian B on, “Real conservatives should stand up for their beliefs. This will leave the extremist out in the open.”

    In plural society, people regardless of color, sex, religion and opinion will co-exist. Pushing morality issue is already done by the church to its members. There is no need for the church to impose it on other groups by way of its members who sit as public official. Those who hold public office should observe separation of church and state. If they cannot, they should resign like the Comelec commissioners.

  13. No one here really knows if same-sex sex in the privacy of a motel room or one’s bedroom is legal in Luzon, is it? [Chances are it is illegal in Mindanao — something about sharia.]

  14. Carl on, “While Catholicism frowns upon homosexuality because it is considered be contrary to the natural law, wherein sex is used for procreation, it is far more tolerant to gays than other religions.”

    This is the test case of the Catholicism tolerance which is only a perception.

    1. The recent Comelec decision is Church intrusion into state domain by which Commissioner Ferrer quoted the bible as its basis. The application of morality is clearly discriminatory where it denies accreditation of LADLAD on the grounds “immorality” and “for being inimical to the interest of the youth”. Yet the Comelec accredited cockfighters as a party which has no morality value and patently inimical to the youth’s interest.

    2. Previously the Church dangles excommunication to the legislators who supported the reproductive health bill.

    The Church with its natural law and procreation stance have driven this tiny country into overpopulation and human disaster.

    How far more that Catholic religion can brought damage to this country by its faithful members implementing the Church edict?

  15. UP n grad, “No one here really knows if same-sex sex in the privacy of a motel room or one’s bedroom is legal in Luzon, is it?”

    The answer is that government has no business in private affairs.

  16. I do believe that the Sabungero party list group wasn’t accredited by Comelec. Click on the link:

    As for strictly separating Church and State, that is more of an ideal than reality. Even the U.S., which strongly advocates such, religion still exercises strong influence on government. While I personally don’t approve of the encroachments of the religious right, it must be admitted that they are a force to reckon with. Witness, for example, how voters in very liberal states like California and Maine rejected same-sex marriages.

    Religion even plays a powerful role in the present health-care bill being worked upon in the U.S. congress. Pro-life advocates could tilt the balance on whether Americans get a comprehensive health care bill.

    As for the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality, I believe that it is very consistent and unequivocal, whether one agrees with its basic principle or not: natural law tells us that sex is for procreation, therefore sex between those of the same sex is unnatural because it clearly is not procreative.

    Philippine society is very tolerant of gays. However, at this point, it makes a distinction between tolerance and licentiousness.

  17. The importance of encoded laws is that they set limits on what can and can be enforced by the police. A male-dressed-in-skirt/wearing-heels can be forced out from a Muslim temple — there is no law that says that the temple is required to accept any and all. Same with a restaurant (not known if it is the same with a post-office branch or, say, a Highways Department office).

    If sex between two consenting same-sex adults is illegal even in the privacy of one’s apartment (NOTE: Wikipedia says “not illegal” for Pilipinas), then an action especially for May2010 is to elect in not only pro-RH candidates but candidates who will help Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ruffy Biazon re-define the appropriate Pinas laws. [Remember that United Nations Declarations and other documents are practically only for guidance. Pinas laws (even if considered obsolete by the under-35 age group) have precedence over United nations documents.]

  18. It may take effort to be informed, but if you do not know what the law says (you can be as brave as you want to be, but) be fair and ramp down a bit before asking someone else to take “tangling-with-the-police” risks.

  19. Carl, the junking of sabungero party list is fixable when the party will submit the required by-laws later. The Comelec did not close the door on sabungero by reason of “immorality” and “inimical to youth’s interest” like what it did in LADLAD.

    You gave too much credit on religion influence in recent rejection in California and Maine. That is not the case. In fact, the parental consent abortion bill lost (which is supported by the Church) when the same voters rejected same-sex-marriage. Majority of the voters, regardless of religion simply did not want to change the definition of marriage as between man and woman.

    On your comment that “Philippine society makes a distinction between tolerance and licentiousness” is too much hype just because a few religious zealots sitting in the Comelec imposed their religious beliefs. In fact, the senators have voiced out against such wrong decision by the Comelec.

  20. this is an excerpt from the pbb live streaming.. a solid proof of discrimination!

    context: house b boys talking about rica (transgender housemate)

    rob: dude wag na lang tayo matulog tonight… or wag na lang kayo maglasing…
    rocky: hindi talaga ko maglalasing… takot ko lang
    rob: dude dibale di naman ako malalasing… bantayan ko na lang kayo kay half-half..
    rocky: hehehe
    rob: dude masaya kaya yung party mamaya? sana talaga sila mariel pa rin noh
    rocky: sana nga
    rob: what’s the point of having fun kung puro mumu naman kasama


    rocky: tol intact pa ba yung kay samson-delilah?
    rob: yeah alam ko it’s still there… why did you ask?
    rocky: hehe para alam ko kung san ako aatake pag ginapang ako
    rob: dudee!!! ayos ah!


    Rob: jackpot talaga sila doon!
    Rocky: jackpot din naman tayo dito ah, meron tayong Samson at Delilah sa isang katawan!
    Patrick: ganyan talaga ang buhay, may nalalamangan…
    Rob: ayaw kong mag-jacuzzi!
    Hermes:it sucks to be us right now
    Rob: kahapon, parang DUDE! ngayon parang WHAT?!!!
    Patrick: ituring din natin silang ordinaryong tao…
    House B boys: hahahahaaha!
    Rocky: di ba sila mga ordinaryong tao?! hehehe

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