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Religion to play key role in debates on same-sex union legislation, says senator

“What will the people say if we prioritize (the same-sex union bill) while we face a lot of problems,” said Senator Pimentel

Religion will play an important role in Senate discussions on the proposed law granting same-sex couples the same rights as those who went through “straight marriage.”

“‘Pag nag-quote na ng mga Bible verses, chapters presented by each senator, then medyo mahabang debatehan na yan (If Bible verses and chapters are quoted by each senator, then it will be a long debate),” said Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel on Sunday, August 14.

He said that he will just focus on arguments based on the country’s Civil Code.

Pimentel admitted that there are social changes, particularly in marriage, but he said it is not the priority of the Senate.

“Nahaharap tayo sa iba’t ibang krisis pang-ekonomiya, at kung uunahin ang pagpasa nito, maapektuhan ang ibang pagdinig ng badyet at pagbalangkas at pagpasa ng mga batas (We are faced with an economic crisis, if we prioritize this, the hearings for the budget and passage of other laws will be affected),” said the senator.

“What will the people say if we prioritize (the same-sex union bill) while we face a lot of problems,” Pimentel said in a radio interview.

He said the bill filed by Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla is already enshrined in the Constitution under the Civil Code on Partnership.

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Pimentel said the country is not prepared yet for the proposal, adding that legislators should prioritize the economic and other crises being faced by the Philippines.

The senator was reacting to the bill filed by Padilla that seeks to give same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by married straight couples under the law.

Padilla, who filed Senate Bill No. 449 in July and admitted that his bill will most likely face opposition from Catholic Church leaders, said he is willing to talk with those who would oppose the proposed measure.

Under the proposal, same-sex couples can enter a civil union if they are 18 or older and are free from previous bond of marriage or civil union.

Once the bill passes into law, same-sex couples will be afforded adoption rights and rights to inherit.

The bill provides a fine of up to PhP1 million or up to 10 years in jail for those who refuse to issue civil union licenses or certificates despite being authorized to do so; and for employers who engage in unlawful or discriminatory employment practices.

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