By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday pushed anew for the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE) equality bill as she filed the first batch of her priority measures in the upcoming 18th Congress.
Hontiveros, a member of the Senate minority bloc, said she is confident the measure, now Senate Bill No. 159, would finally pass this 18th Congress.
“We will paint the Senate with rainbow colors. Our hard work in the previous Congress laid the groundwork for the measure to gain new champions and allies and the massive popularization of the bill inside and outside the halls of the legislature. It has a momentum that can’t be ignored nor halted,” Hontiveros said.
“If the Senate’s 17th Congress was a big win for women and health, the 18th Congress will be a massive victory against hate and discrimination. The SOGIE Equality Bill will pass. It is a measure whose time has come,” she added.
Apart from the SOGIE bill, Hontiveros also filed the Teenage Pregnancy bill, the Universal Social Pension bill for Senior Citizens, the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare bill, the Anti-child Marriage bill, the Strengthened Anti-Rape Law, the On-site, In-city, Near-city Resettlement Bill, the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Bill and the Barangay Health Workers Bill.
The Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill, or Senate Bill 161, was passed on third and final reading in the Senate during the 17th Congress but had no counterpart bill in the House of Representatives. The measure seeks age appropriate education to prevent pregnancies among the youth.
On the other hand, the Universal Social Pension Bill or SB 160 aims to raise the pension for senior citizens from 500 to 1,000 pesos per month, while the Expanded Solo Parents’ Welfare Bill, or SB 164, provides solo parents a 20 percent discount on medicine, medical supplies, and basic needs for their children.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Child Marriage Bill, or SB 162, seeks to penalize those who perform marriage rites or proceedings on people who are below 18 years old to protect the rights of children. The Strengthened Anti-Rape Law, or SB 163, seeks to raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 to 18 years old.
Hontiveros also said she filed the ‘On-site, In-city, Near-city’ Resettlement Bill or SB 167 to ensure there is adequate and thorough consultations between the local government and any informal settlers before any relocation program is done.
She also filed the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Bill or SB 168 which seeks to create and implement a comprehensive fisheries management and protection plan to help conserve and protect the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources.
The Strengthened Anti-Hospital Detention Bill or SB 166, she said, imposes stiffer fines on hospitals and clinics that detain deceased patients or patients who have either fully or partially recovered with outstanding bills.
At the same time, she filed the Barangay Health Workers Bill or SB 165, which seeks to provide basic salaries and statutory benefits such as GSIS, PAG-IBIG and PhilHealth to all barangay health workers.
“These first ten measures are just our initial offering in the 18th Congress to promote equality, health, women’s and senior citizens’ rights. We will do this even as we continue to defend the country’s democracy and sovereignty,” Hontiveros said.
“The public can be assured that I will continue our track record of hard work and hopefully success for the good of the public,” she stressed.