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Comelec: No religious undertone in denying Ang Ladlad petition

November 16, 2009 3:47pm
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) stressed Monday that laws, and not religious beliefs, were the bases used in rejecting the petition of a gay and lesbian organization to be accredited as a party-list group and join next year’s national elections.

"We’re applying the law as it is, we don’t amend the law, we don’t have that power," the poll body's Second Division presiding officer, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, told reporters in an interview.

Ferrer made the statement after the poll body received flak from the supporters of Ang Ladlad after the group was denied accreditation on “moral grounds."

“By using religion as a basis to reject Ang Ladlad’s accreditation, they have crossed the constitutional boundary between the State and religion," said Akbayan party-list Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros, author of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which grants equal rights to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons.

But Ferrer said they only cited various passages from the Holy Bible and the Koran in the resolution to prove that the group’s actions violate the Civil Code and the Revised Penal Code.

"These books provide guidelines on how to behave morally but that doesn’t mean we are using religion against a religious (group)," he said.

The poll body cited Article 694 of the Civil Code which defines nuisance as “any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else which shocks, defies, or disregards decency or morality."

It also cited Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code saying that those who shall "publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals" must be punished.

With this, the Comelec said that it is only being "moral" and not "medieval" when it rejected the petition. "To be moral is not old-fashioned and to be modern does not mean that you have to be immoral," said Ferrer.

Further, he argued that the LGBT sector does not need representation because it is in fact "overrepresented," as their presence is felt in every other sector.

"In what way are they being marginalized? In what way are they being discriminated upon?" he said.

Two years ago, the group led by professor Danton Remoto also failed to get the Comelec’s nod. In the Feb. 27, 2007 resolution, the Comelec’s Second Division then presided by Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason Jr. said that Ang Ladlad declared untruthful statements in its petition.

“Contrary to petitioner’s allegation in its petition that its membership is national in scope, reports from our field offices reveal that it doesn’t exist in most regions of the country," the resolution stated.

Ferrer said the group is free to file a motion for reconsideration before the poll body and that it will be up to the Comelec en banc to decide on the matter.

He also advised those wishing to intervene to sort out their intentions first before meddling with their decision.

“Let them express their views pero wag sila mag-threaten (but they shouldn’t threaten us)," said the commissioner. - GMANews.TV
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