Anti-discrimination Laws Mandated: Human Rights’ Vigilance

Anti-discrimination Laws Mandated: Human Rights’ Vigilance

“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.” Carl T. Rowan

Discrimination happens because of age, disability, race, language, culture, beliefs/religious affiliations, ethnicity, sexual preferences, gender as well as the educational institutions where graduates earned their degrees. According to Dictionary.com, it is a treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. Without statistical analysis for the emergence of figures to prove their occurrences, we hear multiple accounts encountered by countless individuals which elucidate bias incidents.

The discrimination-related  experiences  of    fellow  citizens    reverberate  for everyone’s  awareness  not  to mention  multiple   accounts of individuals  who kept them in  long –endured  silence. But whether  these  forms  of  discrimination  are told or not, the  bottom line  is  they are  all  victims of unjustified  prejudice who deserve  restitution of citizen’s legal rights. Despite the drawbacks of the governments’ efforts in finding solutions for these impartiality, some of these discrimination-related   problems are being addressed by   the country’s law-making bodies.

In the government service, the case   on job search discrimination isn’t   much a piercing controversial issue. A republic act governs how applicants are absorbed into the Philippine Civil Service (PSC). According to Republic Act No. 7041, it is an act requiring regular publications of existing vacant positions in government offices. In here, Section 1 stipulates “that it shall be the policy of the government to promote efficiency in the allocation of personnel in the civil service, as well as transparency and equal opportunities in the recruitment and hiring of new personnel.” It further  specifically points out in its Section 2  that  ”The duty of all Chief Personnel or Administrative Officers of all branches, subdivisions, instrumentality and agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and local government units, to post in three (3) conspicuous places of their offices for a period of ten (10) days a complete list of all existing vacant positions in their respective offices which are authorized to be filled, and to transmit a copy of such list and the corresponding qualification standards to the Civil Service Commission not later than the tenth day of every month.” It further explains that “Vacant positions shall not be filled until after publication: provided, however, that vacant unfilled positions that are: primarily confidential; policy-determining; highly technical; coterminous with that of the appointing authority, or limited to the duration of a particular project shall be excluded from the list required under this Law.” Furthermore, its Section 3 focuses on  publication of vacancies which  defines   that  ‘The  Chairman and members of the Civil Service Commission shall publish once every quarter a complete list of all the existing vacant positions in the Government throughout the country, including the qualification standards required for each position and, thereafter, certify under oath to the completion of publication.” It further reiterates that “The said publication shall be posted by the Chief Personnel or Administrative Officer of all local government units in at least three (3) public and conspicuous places in their respective municipalities and provinces: provided, further, that any vacant position published therein shall be open to any qualified person who does not necessarily belong to the same office with the vacancy or who occupies a position next-in rank to the vacancy.”  It finally affirms that “The Civil Service Commission shall not act on any appointment to fill up a vacant position unless the same has been reported to and published by the Commission.”

Republic Act No. 6725 which is an act strengthening the prohibition on discrimination against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment, amending Article 135. In its Section 1 on Discrimination Prohibited, it articulates that “It is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of her sex.” It has been specified that “The following are acts of discrimination: (a) Payment of a lesser compensation, including wage, salary or other form of remuneration and fringe benefits, to a female employee as against a male employee, for work of equal value; and “(b) Favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to promotion, training opportunities, study and scholarship grants solely on account of their sexes.   This   is interlinked   with the Philippine Commission on Women  (PCW) advocating the National Machinery for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (NMGEWE) that continuously focuses on the presence of Republic Act 9710 called Magna Carta of Women (MCW).”  The MCW is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination through the recognition, protection, fulfillment and promotion of the rights of Filipino women, especially those belonging in the marginalized sectors of the society. It conveys a framework of rights for women based directly on international law.

Base from the information obtained   from the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), Republic Act 7277 which was   mandated on March 24, 1992   by the late President of the Philippines, Corazon C. Aquino, is an act providing for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of disabled person and their integration into the mainstream of society and for other purposes. “Title two   focuses on the  rights and privileges of disabled persons chapter One (1)   specifically  tackles on  the legal  rights  for  employment  under Section 5 on  equal opportunity for employment which affirms  that  ”No disabled persons shall be denied access to opportunities for suitable employment. A qualified disabled employee shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of employment and the same compensation, privileges, benefits, fringe benefits, incentives or allowances as a qualified able-bodied person. Five percent (5%) of all casual, emergency and contractual positions in the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Health; Education, Culture and Sports; and other government agencies, offices or corporations engaged in social development shall be reserved for disabled persons.”

The Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (SALIGAN) has supported   Senate bills that included Bills 2001 and 2888; An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Against Persons on Account of Ethnic Origin and/or Religious Belief.” The (SALIGAN), an alternative law group supported the proposed “Anti-Discrimination Act of 2008”, or House Bill. No. 3012, plus  its  counterpart versions  known  as  Senate Bills 2001 and 2888.According to the  SALIGAN, “There  is  a  necessity of these laws due   to the existence of the  acts of discrimination based on ethnicity and religion” Based from their advocacy-manifested statements, “Historical injustices against the Moros and indigenous peoples have placed them in the bottom tier of the society. Conflict and displacement have excluded them from the benefits of whatever development the Philippines have been able to reap. Moros and indigenous peoples are confronted with the additional burden of fighting off biases that obstruct their way for good education, better employment, and access to goods and services. Furthermore, they have asserted   that biases against the Moro peoples have been the subject of the Pulse Asia study that was incorporated into the Philippine Human Development Report of 2005.

Meanwhile, according to age   Discrimination. Info, Philippine Senator  Pia Cayetano currently renews  a  call   regarding the   bill filed in the Senate that  seeks to end discrimination in the hiring of employees on the basis of age  which is now  pending  for the  second reading at  the Senate. Senate Bill No. 29, or the “Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 2013,” aspires to penalize employers; labor contractors or organizations that make a person’s age the basis for employment. Cayetano reiterated   that “The measure is anchored on the constitutional provision that mandates the State to ensure equality of employment opportunities for all” She too, added that “The basis for employment should be a person’s knowledge, skills and qualifications which are necessary to perform a job. A person’s age should not be an issue.” Cayetano’s measures express   that “Private and public employers are not allowed to: Print, publish, or cause the printing or publishing any notice of advertisement relating to employment suggesting preferences, limitations, specifications and discrimination based on age, Require the declaration of age or birth date during the application process, Decline any employment application because of the applicant’s age, Discriminate against an individual on account of his or her age in terms of compensation, terms and conditions, privileges, promotions and other opportunities  and Forcibly lay-off an employee because of old age.”

With  hopes   to   continuously experience  the  implementation of this  in the   country, we  owe much  from   steadfast  government officials  who  earlier advocated  the  existence of this  rights  to be recognized  in the Philippine society   which  currently continuous    to benefit    all   country’s  citizens. Previously, according to the Sponsorship Speech   on “Anti-Discrimination Act of 2011” Delivered at the Senate Floor by  Senator Loren Legarda  Chair, Senate Committee on Cultural Communities on its 16th congress,  she   emphatically stated  that , “When we entered into an international commitment to end racial discrimination with the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), we have also made this Convention a part of the law of the land. Our country is also a member of the United Nations General Assembly, which has passed: (1) the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief; (2) the 1993 UN GA Resolution on Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance; and 3) The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – all of which provide for non-discrimination based on race, ethnicity, social origin or religious belief.”

The Anti-Discrimination laws that  were  mandated  by the legislative and executive  administration of the country  may not have  addressed  all the  forms  of discrimination that  are  occurring in private and public administration but with the  existence  of these laws, they  trigger the probable emergence of  other strict laws  that  will  yield  favorable responses   to these  human behavior-created  dilemmas. The  government, considering the  prejudices and   experiences of actual discrimination, foresees  urgent  need to enact laws in order to  address  these   spreading social  cancer  which defy  the essence of  equality in a country where nationalism is a priority. These laws may not come in spurs of seconds but will systematically thrive to dominate these overwhelming societal problems.
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