An Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex or gender or sexual orientation, language, disability, educational attainment and other forms of discrimination
The fundamental human rights are well-enshrined in the 1987 Philippine
Constitution. The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full
respect for human rights. 1 Oppression, maltreatment, and discrimination have no
place in a civilized nation. More often than not, the hapless victims are left with an
almost indelible scar and emotional trauma on their consciousness as a human
being. The framers of the Constitution put in place provisions that would safeguard
the citizen’s rights and liberties. Every citizen has now a bundle of rights which must
be upheld and respected by all and no less than the supreme law of the land
demand of this treatment.
As a matter of policy, the State should always apply the law equally to all
persons. The equal protection clause 2 , according to an eminent constitutionalist, is
the specific constitutional guarantee of the equality of the person. 3 This clause
requires that laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar
circumstances or that all persons must be treated in the same manner, the
Moreover, our country is signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (UDHR) which gives paramount recognition of the inherent dignity
and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The UDHR provides that
everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind such
as race, color, sex or gender or sexual orientation language, religion political or other opinion, educational attainment, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status 5 .
We are likewise a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights which recognizes non-discrimination and equality as
fundamental components of international human rights law and essential to the
exercise and enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. It obliges each State
Party to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be
exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status. 6 The equal and inalienable rights of “everyone” to the various Covenant rights
such as, inter alia, the right to work, just and favourable conditions of work, social
security, an adequate standard of living, and health and education must be upheld at
More and more local statutes previously enacted are geared towards the
promotion of equality. RA 6725 amended the Labor Code in order to strengthen the
prohibition of discrimination against women with respect to terms and conditions of
employment. 7 It imposes criminal liability for the willful commission of unlawful acts of
discrimination respecting terms of compensation and career opportunities. We also
have RA 7277 otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. Under
this law, disabled persons should have the same rights as other people to take their
proper place in society and the State should exert all efforts to remove all social,
cultural, economic, environmental and attitudinal barriers that are prejudicial to
disabled persons. 8 It also prohibits and penalizes acts of discrimination against
disabled persons in terms of employment 9 , riding public transportation 10 , and using
public accommodations and services 11 .
While these pieces of legislation are excellent means to curb discrimination
against women and persons with disability, there are still other sectors of Philippine
society which suffer from oppression and maltreatment. At present, acts of
discrimination towards certain groups are still prevalent as shown in some news
- In 2003, a Manobo family were forced out of their ancestral land.
Accordingly, they were unduly discriminated because of their indigenous
ancestry 12 .
- Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons are targeted with
physical and verbal assaults that affect their economic, cultural, social, health, and other well-being. There are countless reported cases of LGBT
members suffering from discrimination in their employment 13 .
- Incidents of racial profiling and discrimination against Muslims. The NBI
Western Mindanao caused public outrage for using the label ‘Muslim type’
in an artist sketch of a suspect in the Zamboanga blast 14 .
- A hairdresser who was tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) won a labor dispute against his employer, celebrity hairstylist Ricky
Reyes, who was found guilty by a labor-management mediation court of
“discrimination and unlawful termination. 15
Discrimination on account of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sexual
orientation and/or gender identity, and HIV status directly affects the lives of the
victims. It creates a stigma which undermines not only their psychological well-being
but also deprives them of economic, political, and social rights and access to
This measure seeks to enhance the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution
and several international declarations, prevent and criminalize various forms of
discrimination and penalize such. Any form of discrimination may be categorized as
a crime against humanity and human dignity in that several international declarations
promote the equal treatment of all people and prevent discrimination on the basis of
race, ethnicity, and other status.
Under this measure, discriminatory acts such as inflicting stigma, denial of
education, political, civil and cultural rights, right to work, access to goods and
services, and the right to organize, inflicting harm on health and well-being,
engaging in profiling, abuses by state and non-state agencies, and detention and
confinement are strictly prohibited and will be met with corresponding penalties.
In view of the foregoing circumstances, approval of this bill is fervently sought.
2 Phil. Const. art.III, § 1.No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
3 J. Bernas, S.J., Constitutional Rights and Social Demands: Notes and Cases, Vol. II , p. 48
4 JM Tuason and Co. v. The Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413 (1970)
5 Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
6 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights art. 2 (2)
7 RA No. 6725 § 1 Discrimination Prohibited. — It shall be unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex.
8 RA No. 7277 Magna Carta for Disabled Persons § 2
9 Ibid. § 32
10 Ibid. § 34
11 Ibid. § 36
12 www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/FA- 19-2003
13 As an illustration, www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/03/28
14 http://www.rappler.com/nation/106963-doj- investigation-muslim- type-nbi
15 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/762454/worker-with- hiv-wins- case-vs- ricky-reyes
LUIS RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR.