By Tetch Torres
First Posted 19:21:00 02/04/2009
MANILA, Philippines -- Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said it is the responsibility of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to draft policies to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) against discrimination.
In a three-page opinion, Gonzalez said Articles 2(2) and 26 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is a signatory, requires that LGBTs be entitled to equal protection before the law.
The opinion was issued after Akbayan party-list Representative Ana Theresa Hontiveros-Baraquel asked Gonzalez who should make the policies on LGBTs.
"[T]he law shall prohibit discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any grounds, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status," Gonzalez said.
He pointed out that policies concerning human rights and constitutional guarantees on civil liberties are the jurisdiction of the CHR and the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC).
"This time-honored policy is dictated not only by practical considerations but by a sincere respect for the experties on, and familiarity with, the policies relating to the subject, and the rightful exercise of jurisdiction by a coequal and coordinate government office," Gonzalez said.
On the other hand, questions of legislation belong to the House of Representatives, the justice secretary said.
The justice secretary is primarily the legal adviser of the president, department heads, bureau chiefs, and other members of the executive branch of government.