Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ang Ladlad's petition to join 2010 polls junked with finality

12/17/2009 | 02:20 PM

Original Story:

(UPDATE 2 - 5:39 pm) The Commission on Elections has denied with finality the petition of gay rights group Ang Ladlad to be accredited as a party-list organization and join next year's elections.

Voting 3-3, with the tie broken by poll body Chairman Jose Melo, the Comelec said that the earlier resolution of the Second Division dismissing the petition for registration of the Ang Ladlad Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Party “stands."

“I vote to deny the motion for reconsideration and to sustain the action of the Commission’s Second Division," said Melo in a separate opinion attached to the Comelec resolution.

Higher IQ level

Ang Ladlad's Danto Remoto criticized the decision. He said his group would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

"The four old men in Comelec bonded together" and "used morality as a reason for a legal resolution," Remoto told GMANews.TV in an interview on Thursday.

"It shows you how narrow-minded and homophobic these four men are. We're waiting for a copy of the resolution. Our lawyers are going to the Supreme Court whose IQ level is higher than the Comelec," he added.

According to Melo, the LGBT sector is already properly represented and their constituents protected under the present rights granted to male and female citizens.

“Even if the society’s understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of LGBTs is elevated, there can be no denying that Ladlad constituencies are still males and females, and they will remain either male or female-protected by the same Bill of Rights that applies to all citizens alike and who are amply represented also by the males and females who comprise our legislature," said the Comelec chief.

No religious belief imposed

Melo was quick to note, however, that the commission was not imposing any religious beliefs or moral rules on Ang Ladlad, which boasts of 8.7 million constituencies nationwide.

“They are possibly-religion based, but as a society, the Philippines cannot ignore its more than 500 years of Muslim and Christian upbringing, such that some moral precepts espoused by said religions have slipped into society and these are now publicly accepted moral norms," he said.

Three other commissioners from the Comelec's Second Division - Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph - have likewise maintained their previous decision to deny the party-list group of accreditation based on “moral grounds."

“The definition (by Ang Ladlad) of the LGBT sector makes it crystal clear that petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs," the Second Division said in its previous eight-page resolution.

Ang Ladlad supporters

Meanwhile, First Division Commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal, Rene Sarmiento, and Armando Velasco supported Ang Ladlad.

“Considering that the petition contains nothing that is morally reprehensible, there is no legal basis to deny the instant petition. The assertion that Ang Ladlad failed to comply with laws and rules and regulations pertinent to election also lacks factual basis," Sarmiento said in his concurring opinion.

He added that the petition of Ladlad was earlier resolved on moral grounds and not on the yardstick set by the provisions in the law.

“The November 18, 2009 resolution appears to have confused law with morality. While some laws are anchored on morals, they do not always correspond to each other," he said, adding that even if one looks into Ang Ladlad from a “moral standpoint," nothing indicates that the group advocates immorality.

The LGBT sector and militant lawmakers earlier bashed the Comelec for denying Ang Ladlad accreditation, saying the poll body was “medieval" in its way of thinking.

The Comelec Second Division, through Ferrer, had repeatedly defended their decision saying that being moral was not the same as being old fashioned. - with reports from Carmela G. LapeƱa, GMANews.TV

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