Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Sunday believed that Filipinos were not yet ready for the institutionalization of same-sex couple civil unions.
Pimentel made the remark after Senator Robin Padilla filed Senate Bill 449, or the proposed Civil Unions Act, which seeks to “recognize the civil union between two persons of the same or opposite sex to be able to enjoy the rights, protection, and privileges afforded in this bill.”
As to why he disfavored same-sex marriage, Pimentel said that marriage was intended only for a man and woman to build a family - the basic unit of society.
“Alam ko naman na ang moralidad o norms ng lipunan nagbabago ‘yan overtime. So, tignan natin kung handa na ba ang Pilipinas dito. Ang aking pagbasa sa ating mga kababayan, number one, hindi pa tayo handa,” he said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.
“Number two, masisira ang ating understanding ng marriage kasi marriage po talaga ito. Bibigyan pa ng lisensya yata ‘yung mag o-officiate ng civil registrar…Halos lahat ng process ng marriage sinunod eh,” he added.
(I know that the morality or norms of society change over time. So, let's see if the Philippines is ready for this. However, from what I see, our country is not yet ready. Number two, our understanding of marriage will be destroyed because this is really about marriage. It seems that those who will officiate the wedding will be given a license by the civil registrar... Almost all the marriage processes will be followed.)
While he believed that the discussion of same-sex unions or marriage could be started, Pimentel asked his fellow lawmakers to prioritize which measures should be debated over now amid the economic and food crises, and issues of corruption.
He also said that under the Civil Code of the Philippines, same-sex couples could protect their relationship through a “partnership.”
In a statement on Sunday, Padilla said he is open to free discussions and debates on SB 449, noting that it will go through the proper processes, including hearings at the committee and plenary levels of the Senate, where groups for and against the bill can air their thoughts.
“Bilang Senador ng buong bansa na kanilang pinagkatiwalaan na iboto rin at lapitan, kailangan ko ito aksyunan nang walang drama. Malinaw po sa aking mandato na wala akong pipiliin na panigan o pakinggan,” he said.
(As a Senator of the country, I need to act on this without drama. My mandate is clear that I cannot favor anyone.)
Padilla also said the healthy exchange of ideas about the bill is all part of our democracy. He thus invited the public to read the contents of the bill, instead of judging it.
The neophyte Senator also defended the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, which he said is made up of reasonable and respected people who want to be heard.
"Wala po silang intensyon na sagasaan ang anumang religion kaya’t ang kanilang mungkahi po ay civil hindi Simbahan–- an exercise of their democratic right to freedom of religion... right to equality, right against Exploitation,” he said.
(They have no intention of violating any religion, that’s why they are asking for civil union, not marriage—to uphold their rights to freedom of religion... right to equality, right against exploitation.)
Padilla also said he will not go against the "reminders" of some Muslim groups regarding the bill.
"Sila po ang nakakaalam ng tama at mali sa ating pananampalataya. Kailanman man po hindi ko sasalungatin ang kanilang mga pahayag ng pagtutuwid. Bagkus nagpapasalamat po ako sa kanilang mga paalala, pahayag at dua Alhamdulillah jazakum allah khayran,” he added.
(They know what is right and wrong in our faith. I will not go against their reminders, instead, I am thankful for them.)
For their part, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday said that the state could not force the Church to honor something that was against its beliefs as doing so was a violation of its rights. — DVM, GMA News