By Jillian Marielle Tiraña

Senator Robin Padilla has filed a measure which seeks to recognize civil unions of same-sex couples in the country, highlighting the need for equal recognition of the rights and privileges of Filipinos regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE).

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Under Padilla's Senate Bill No 449, recognized couples who enter into civil union will be granted the benefits and protections given as well to married couples.

“It is the policy of the State to promote social justice, value the dignity of every person and guarantee respect for human rights regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” the bill stated.

In his explanatory note, Padilla pointed out that providing equal rights for same-sex couples will not negatively affect the rights of married couples.

"It is high time that the Philippines provides equal rights and recognition for couples of the same sex with no prejudice as to sexual relationships are protected and recognized and given access to basic social protection and security," the senator said.

The said bill allows anyone who has accomplished the given requirements to enter a civil union. These requirements include the legal capacity of contracting parties and consent and authority given in the presence of an administering officer.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) openly condemned Padilla’s proposed bill in an interview with ANC.

“Same-sex union is not permitted in the Bible or in Koran of Islam,” PCEC National Director Bishop Noel Pantoja said.

Pantoja advised that a careful study of the bill’s religious and legal implications must be done, comparing it as being identical to same-sex marriage.

“Ating protektahan ang sanctity ng marriage and family as ordained by our God,” he continued.

Pantoja also reasoned that the country’s family code and existing laws already protect the rights of all people.

Over 31 countries around the world, including the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom, have already legalized same-sex marriage.

Edited by Audrei Jeremy Mendador