Neophyte senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla on Monday, August 15, said he is open to discuss his proposed bill, which seeks to uphold the rights of same-sex couples, with religious leaders.
The senator made the pronouncement after a Muslim religious leader in Mindanao announced that he is withdrawing support for Padilla over his support for same-sex union.
“I regret to inform all Muslims in general and the Muslims in the Philippines that I and those who follow me have withdrawn our support for Senator Robin Padilla,” said Grand Imam Alim Abdulmajeed Djamla of the Marawi Grand Mosque.
Padilla said he will not go against the pronouncement of Muslim religious leaders, adding that “they are the ones who know what is right and what is wrong in our faith.”
“Kailanman man po hindi ko sasalungatin ang kanilang mga pahayag ng pagtutuwid. Bagkus nagpapasalamat po ako sa kanilang mga paalala (I will not go against their statements and corrections. Instead, I am thankful for their reminders),” said the senator.
He said, however, that as a senator it is clear on his mandate and he will act on the issue fairly.
“My bill will go through a long process of hearings, so if you have concerns about it, it will be best for you and your groups to take part in the debates on the proposed measure),” said Padilla.
He said a healthy exchange of ideas about the bill is “part of our democracy.”
On Monday, Imam Djamla of Marawi said he and his followers “strongly condemn” Padilla’s sponsorship of the bill titled “An Act Institutionalizing Civil Unions of Same Sex Couples, Establishing Their Rights and Obligations, and For Other Purposes.”
In his statement, Djamla said “same-sex marriage is considered immoral by all religions and is forbidden (Haram) under Islamic law.”
He said whoever commits the act from among the Muslims is “tantamount to disbelief (Kufr) which is outside the creed of Islam.”
Padilla, who filed Senate Bill No. 449 in July, has admitted that his bill will most likely face opposition from religious leaders.
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.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel on Sunday, August 14, warned that religion will play an important role in Senate discussions on the proposed law.
“If Bible verses and chapters are quoted by each senator, then it will be a long debate,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel admitted that there are social changes, particularly in marriage, but he said it is not the priority of the Senate.
“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 Padilla is already enshrined in the Constitution under the Civil Code on Partnership.
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.