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Ako Bicol backs pope on same-sex civil unions

Zaldy Co
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Monday cited the need for Congress to immediately pass a bill allowing same-sex civil unions in the country, but clarified that Pope Francis’ support to the controversial issue is entirely different from Church weddings.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co backed the stand of Pope Francis, explaining that passing a civil union law would provide legal protection for same-sex couples.

“The Holy Father, the anointed leader of the Catholic Church, has spoken. While some were understandably upset or shocked, we must take the Pope’s words in their proper context. Same sex civil unions are totally different from the holy sacrament of matrimony in Church,” Co said.

While the Pope’s words carry a lot of weight, Co said the Philippines has yet to pass a law allowing same-sex civil unions.

“I think the Pope explained it beautifully: ‘Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,'” Co said.

Co stressed “that being gay is not immoral. What is immoral is rape, sexual harassment and violence against those who have different sexual orientations.”

He said what the Pope bravely announced is something that no other Pope has done in centuries.

“It’s not for us to judge, we have to listen,” Co stressed.

The Bicolano lawmaker said everybody is equal in the eyes of God. “Being gay or lesbian is not any person’s fault so let’s not discriminate.”


Jocelyn Tulfo
ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Jocelyn P. Tulfo

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Jocelyn P. Tulfo said there is no bill yet pending in Congress now that would confer civil union rights and protections for same-sex couples.

“Sa House of Representatives, mayroong dalawang bill ukol sa civil partnership at dati mayroong bill sa same-sex property relations. Sa Senado, mayroong bill tungkol sa property relations ng same-sex partners, pero walang bill tungkol sa civil union o civil partnership, o marriage para sa same-sex partners,” Tulfo said.

“Apat na uri ng pagsasama at kontrata ang isyu ngayon: Marriage, Civil Union, Civil Partnership, at Partnership. Pinakamataas ang marriage o kasal. Sunod diyan ang civil union. Sunod naman ang civil partnership. Pinakamababa ang simpleng Partnership. Mayroon nang umiiral na batas para sa marriage (Family Code) at partnership (Law on Obligations and Contracts ng Civil Code of the Philippines). Panukalang batas pa lang ang civil partnership,” she explained.

Tulfo also said the statement of Pope Francis is not a papal act like decree or an apostolic constitution.

“Hindi niya sinabi ang kanyang posisyon pabor sa homosexuals sa pamamagitan ng isang Papal Encyclical o sa isang Apostolic Constitution o Papal Decree. Samakatuwid, hindi opisyal na posisyon o batas ng Simbahang Katoliko ang pahayag sa isang interview para sa isang documentary. Opisyal na dokumento at opisyal na batas, posisyon, turo, at doktrina ng Simbahang Katoliko kapag Apostolic Constitution o Papal Decree,” she said.

But the ACT-CIS congresswoman also pointed out that some of the civil union rights are partly achievable under the current law on Obligations and Contracts.

“Halimbawa, kung ang dalawang lalaki o dalawang babae o dalawang LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) ay magpirmahan ng kontrata na nakasaad ang kanilang kasunduan na may gagawing serbisyo, trabaho, o produkto, ito ay maaari pero limitado sa batas ukol sa Obligations and Contracts ang saklaw ng kontrata. Maaari silang bumili ng bahay at lupa o condominium units at nakapangalan sa kanila bilang joint owners. Maaari silang magtayo ng isang negosyo at nakasulat sa kontrata ang hatian ng kita at bayarin maaari silang may kasunduan sa pagbabayad ng mga gastusin sa bahay. Sa mata ng batas, sila ay co-owners,”

Earlier, House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera urged her colleagues in Congress to listen to Pope Francis and heed his call for legislation to protect same-sex couples.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo “Pido” Garbin, a lawyer, said “marriage under the Family code is still limited to a man and woman as defined and subject to the essential requisites of marriage” unless otherwise amended by Congress.