In 2016, the Philippines scored a milestone for humanity when transgender Geraldine Roman was elected as the representative of Bataan's 1st District. She is officially the country's first trans congresswoman. One of the first things she did at the House of Representatives was to co-author of House Bill No. 267 or the "Anti-Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (SOGI) Discrimination Act."
For the last 17 years, the bill which has been repeatedly refiled in Congress. Its counterpart in the Senate is Senate Bill No. 1271 or the "Anti-Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Discrimination Act." The Senate bill was prepared and submitted by the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality with Senator Risa Hontiveros as author.
But while Roman and Hontiveros are identified as champions of the Anti-Discrimination Act, they also have counterparts who are not as progressive in both perspective and comprehension when it comes to gender identity issues.
With the Anti-Discrimination Act now in the spotlight, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Tito Sotto have provided somewhat dubious arguments on the matter. While one is determined to (mis)use the Bible as a shield for his lack of better arguments, the other one doesn't hesitate to showcase a worldview that borders on being a joke.
That said, we present the tag team statements of Pacquiao and Sotto on the Anti-Discrimination Act.
"Ano ba gagawin natin diyan na nagdamit babae yung lalaki? Tapos nabigla yung lalaki na, 'Lalaki ka pala!' eh pinatay."
Translation: "What do we do when a man dresses up as a woman? Then, the man that he is with is shocked by it and goes, 'You're actually a man!' and ends up killing him."
—Senator Manny Pacquiao explaining how he believes that cross-dressing can lead to a crime by citing the scenario that allegedly happened to slain Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, who was killed by U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton in 2014
"Pag pumasok kami [sa clubhouse]…at naka-collarless shirt ka, at tsaka naka-tsinelas ka, hindi ka papapasukin. Straight kami. Papano kung transgender yung andudun? Or gay yung andudun, at naka-collarless, at naka-slippers at pinalalabas? With this law, kapag napasa ito, pwede i-demanda yung clubhouse. Ang agrabyado ay yung mga straight. Kahit pinalabas kami, hindi kami makakapalag eh pero pag transgender ang pinalabas, pwede silang mag-demanda, eh."
Translation: "When you go to a clubhouse...and you're wearing a collarless shirt and slippers, they won't let you in. We are straight men. What if a transgender is there? Or a gay person is there? And they're wearing collarless shirts and slippers and they're asked to leave? With this law, if this gets passed, the can sue the clubhouse. The ones who are at a disadvantage are straight people. Even if we are asked to leave, we can't complain but if it's transgenders who are asked to leave, then they can sue."
—Senator Tito Sotto, arguing that the bill may be exploited by scammers who may sue golf courses and clubhouses with strict dress codes
"Even in the Bible, we can read na ang babae, dapat magsuot na pambabae at ang lalaki, magsuot ng panlalaki. That's what I believe."
Translation: "Even in the Bible, we can read that a woman is supposed wear women's clothes and a man is supposed to wear men's clothers. That's what I believe."
—Senator Manny Pacquiao explaining why he's against cross-dressing
"Kami sa mga lalaki, walang problema kung papasok ka, magto-toilet sa 'min ang babae eh. At saka yung, let’s say, feeling na gusto niya dun, okay lang. Walang problema. Pero sa mga babae, ang danger na sinasabi ko is hindi yung mga ano, hindi yung mga binabae o yung gay. Yung problema yung magkukunwari, magbibihis kunyari na binabae siya o gay siya, o transgender siya, pagkatapos hindi pala, ang intensyon is either mamboso o di kaya mang-hold-up o kaya eh... Naku, delikado pa naman."
Translation: "When it comes to us men, there's no problem if even a woman goes inside the men's room to use the toilet. If she feels that she wants to go into the men's room, it's okay. There's no problem. However, when it comes to the ladies' room, the danger I'm referring to isn't about a transgender person or a gay person. The problem is if a man dresses up as transgender or pretends to be gay just so he could peep on women or rob them or... Oh my, it's really dangerous."
—Senator Tito Sotto explaining how he thinks the proposed anti-discrimination law may be exploited by criminals
"Doon pa lang, makikita natin yung deception na naloko si Pemberton at sumama siya doon [kay Laude]."
Translation: "It's there that we see there was deception and Pemberton was fooled so he went [with Laude]."
—Senator Manny Pacquiao still blaming Laude's cross-dressing as the reason for the crime being committed
"As a matter of fact, ako nga nagsu-suggest ng gender-neutral na toilet para kahit babae, lalaki pwede na eh."
Translation: "As a matter of fact, I was the one who suggested that restrooms should be gender-neutral na toilet so both women and men can go in."
—Senator Tito Sotto making an attempt to sound progressive but failing