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    Message of VP Leni at Pink SONA 2017

    Office of the Vice President 25 June 2017 Delivered by Georgina Hernandez, Vice Presidential Spokesperson, 22 June 2017

    Magandang araw sa inyong lahat! Happy Pride! Muli ako po si Georgina Hernandez, mula po ako sa tanggapan ni VP Leni Robredo. Unfortunately, hindi po siya makakasama sa atin dito. Iyong iba sa inyo na friends dito ni VP Leni sa FB, nag post po siya kahapon. At kasama yung kanyang mga anak, nagiging full time mother siya dahil nag set up sila ng titirhan ni Aika, iyong panganay niyang anak sa US dahil magaaral muna doon iyong panganay niyang anak sa Harvard. Pero pauwi na po si VP Leni, unfortunately, hindi po siya makakaabot sa atin ngayong araw.

    Mayroon pong mensahe ng supporta mula sa opisina. Katulad ng nabanggit kanina, matagal na po nating kasama si VP Leni noong siya pa ay Congresswoman, noong siya ay nasa NGO, PAO, at Human Rights Lawyer. Bago pa man siya pumasok sa pulitika at gobyerno ay ipinaglalaban na po niya iyong mga karapatang pantao kasama po iyong sa LGBT Rights at sa amin pong opisina, mayroon po kaming mga programa para sa mga UN Sustainable Development Goals, sa edukasyon, sa kalusugan, sa kabuhayan. At yung sa nakikita po natin na sektor na kailangan talagang tutukan ay iyong sa LGBT, lalo na yung mga pinupuntahan ni VP Leni sa mga malalayo, yung mga nasa laylayan, pero imaginine po natin o isipin pa natin iyong mga LGBT dito sa mga lugar na ito. Parang doble, parang double discrimination iyong nararanasan nung mga kabataan na narinig nga po natin kanina sa report yung isyu ng bullying. Kahit po mayroon ng batas, may anti-bullying na po, ay laganap pa rin iyong… leading to drop-outs and depression. At iyon po sana, bilang isang opisina na pinamumunuan ni VP Leni ay makatulong po kami sa abot ng aming makakaya para po matugonan iyong mga bagay na ito.

    Iyong mensahe po mula sa aming opisina, “Thank you very much for inviting us to speak before you on this special occasion. First of all, I would like to commend and thank everyone for all the hard work you have done in pushing for LGBT rights in the Philippines. Some of the people and organizations here today have been there at the very start, and we thank all of you for your tireless efforts.

    Yung ilang pong nandito maituturing ng beterano’t beterana… Madam Jessy (laughs). Beterano’t beterana, iyong iba naman, ilang Pride March na ang inorganisa at pinuntahan at pinondohan at nirampahan. Bilib po kami sa inyong tapang at walang sawang dedikasyon. Kung ano man po ang magagandang bagay ang tinatamasa ng LGBT Community ngayon ay utang namin sa inyo.

    But obviously our work is not yet finished. All around the globe there is still so much hate and anger being hurled at the LGBT community. Discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians still persists, even in many advanced societies. Bullying takes place at work, on the streets, at the church, in schools and universities, and sometimes even at home.

    Ito po iyong nabanggit na po kanina doon sa before sa Human Rights Watch, iyong pamamahagi din ng ilang mga estudyante kanina at ah, ito po iyong isa sa iuuwi po namin. Iyong kung papaano po natin matutugonan iyong ating discrimination at bullying, lalong lalo na po iyong mga kabataan na nasa eskwelahan dahil iyong aming opisina po ay nakikipag trabaho din sa DepEd at direkta sa ilang mga schools in partnership with LGUs.

    Many of these victims are young people, mostly in their teens, who either fall into depression or even resort to suicide. Many of them feel unsafe, unwanted, and isolated. On the other hand, we have seen how more and more nations have become champions of LGBT rights. LGBT rights in our country still has a long way to go, but as we move forward, let us not forget the countless triumphs we have achieved in the past.

    Today, many members of the LGBT community hold important, influential positions in our country. They are businessmen, executives, lawyers, educators, doctors, artists, public servants in government. How do we create a safe space for our LGBT brothers and sisters to thrive, grow, and fulfill their dreams? How do we lessen gender discrimination at work and in school? How do we educate our youth on safe-sex and provide access to quality health care to those with HIV/AIDS? How do we make sure that members of the LGBT enjoy equal civil rights and privileges? Ultimately, how do we turn this situation around so that our efforts will be most beneficial for the LGBT community?

    VP Leni would always remind us that if you want to listen–if you want to come up with the best solution, then we must learn how to listen to those who experience these problems first hand. That is why today’s gathering is very important. We have to work closely with LGBT groups and organizations, expand our networks, and consolidate our plans. We need to constantly engage our institutions and influence our lawmakers in drafting relevant mocks. Most important of all, we need to accelerate LGBT participation and equitable representation in decision making–in the decision making arena.

    VP Leni has always been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights. During her turn in congress, she was one of those who rallied behind the passage of the anti-discrimination bill. She’s co-author of the anti-discrimination bill, and though she’s no longer in congress, through, her allies and friends in congress, she is confident, ah, that, that this has enough momentum, and, and that soon enough, ah, we will see this, ah, happening in the near future.

    We need to ensure that no one is denied of his political, civic, and cultural rights because of his or her ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, civil status, disability and health.

    Access to quality education plays a major role in giving our LGBT brothers and sisters the right for self-determination. It will free them from society’s longheld beliefs and stereotypes. It will give them freedom to make informed choices. This translates to every aspect of human life, from health-related concerns and livelihood opportunities, again the basics, really, ah, the importance really of education, of health, of economic empowerment. We must ensure that no one is refused from admission or expelled from an educational institution, because of one’s gender or sexual preference.

    The anti-discrimination bill, again, must be passed now. To empower members of the LGBT community, we must also provide them with better options for economic growth and participation. Economic empowerment is where freedom and equality begin. Economic freedom is entwined with our most basic liberties. It is in the security–It is in the security of our right to life that we are able to exercise all other rights. No one should be required to disclose his or her status as a basis for employment, promotion, termination, determination of compensation, training, incentives, and other benefits or terms of employment.

    The involvement of the academe is also important, especially in spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS. Learning should go beyond the four corners of the classroom–the role of the students should be intertwined with the role of the active citizen. Social involvement is key if we are to create a brighter future for all of us. It will dictate how people will vote, how future leaders will lead our country. Equality is one of the pillars of a strong, genuine democracy. Democracy demands that we commit ourselves to each and every Filipino.

    Sa tunay na demokrasya walang nahuhuli, walang naiiwan. Dahil tayo ay nasa isang bangka, ang bawat isa ay mahalaga at may maiaambag ano pa man ang kanyang pinanggalingan o pinaniniwalaan.

    For democracy to thrive, we must demand that each person be acknowledged for his or her uniqueness, that he or she is given the opportunity to grow and effectively contribute to nation building. But to achieve this, we must uphold, first and foremost, the dignity of each human person. We must remind our people that it is not the circumstances that we are born into that define us. It is how we chose to lead our lives–with love, service, and compassion.

    This is what we have learned, ah, in the office of the Vice President during the past eleven months, of VP Leni’s term. Every week, the Vice President would visit the farthest and most remote barangays in our country. She would go on hikes on muddy trails, walk across rice fields, cross rivers and seas to spend time with her countrymen and listen to their stories.

    For instance, we visited Agutaya, a small town in Northern Palawan. To get there, you have to take a ten-hour boat ride from Gulon. When we arrived, people welcomed the Vice President in tears and, ah, she later found out that it was the first time, ah, that, ah, they were visited by a national official after a long time.

    Perhaps, this is what it also means to stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters, to share in your pains and frustrations, to celebrate your triumphs and gains, to be your voice during these extraordinary times. That is why the peace gathering is very important–it is a testament that in your fight for justice and equality, the LGBT community is never alone.

    So let us continue building bridges, not walls. Let us include, rather than exclude. Let us break stereotypes and build more nurturing communities.

    Ultimately, our fight for justice and equality does, and should not, stop with the LGBT community. It must go beyond one’s gender and sexual preference. I hope your conversations today will create ripples of change in the lives of every Filipino, especially the poor and underprivileged. Maraming salamat po, at mabuhay ang Pinoy LGBT community!

    Posted in Speeches on Jun 25, 2017