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IFI apologizes to sexual minorities, rejoices in the presence of LGBTIQ+ among members and clergy

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) urged its members to embrace lesbians, gays and people of all other sexual orientations in an edict issued by its Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) earlier this year and currently being circulated on social media.

Hoping to end “hurtful hate and suspicion,” the Church said it is challenged to stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning and those who identify with the other sexual minorities (LGBTIQ+) as it did when it “affirmed the gift of women priesthood” in the 1990s.

“We believe that the Church must openly embrace God’s people of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (SSOGIE) as we embark on a journey toward a just and peaceful world,” the SCB statement “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity” said.

Founded in 1902 as a revolutionary national church, IFI continues its reform-oriented doctrine and practice, including tolerance of freemasonry, optional celibacy for its clergy, women priesthood, and special missions for oppressed sectors such as the Lumad of Mindanao.

The Bishops apologized to the sexual minorities for the failures in the past.

“We humbly ask for forgiveness for the many times we have shown indifference, and have made the LGBTIQ+ people feel less human, discriminated against and stigmatized. We apologize for instances they felt that, through our thoughts, words and deeds, God’s love is selective,” the statement said.

IFI said the presence of the sexual minority among its members and clergy must be recognized and rejoiced.

“We applaud their persistent belief in God’s embracing love. The judgment, intolerance and non-acceptance have not stopped many from serving the Church, even through the priestly order. They have enriched the life, work and witness of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente,” it said.

The SCB also said it hopes its move can effect change among other Churches and church people.

“Through this declaration, we implore agenda-setters to discuss laws and initiatives challenging LGBTIQ+ discrimination. Only through this can we truly protect our brothers and sisters in the community, against issues such as abuse and the rise in HIV and AIDS cases in the sector; against avoidable fear, suffering and caution,” it said.

Need to propagate

IFI priest and human rights advocate Dionito Cabillas said their Church must strive to propagate the statement as it is an official declaration from its supreme council.

Cabillas said not all IFI members are ready to accept the edict, but its clergy must explain and teach it in their respective congregations.

“To be true to our revolutionary tradition, we must be a Church that truly loves God, serves the people and struggles to eliminate all forms of discrimination,” Cabillas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image from IFI-Negros Occidental FB page)

LGBTs make voices heard at SONA protest

By Mark Kevin Reginio

Rainbow-colored flags enlivened the streets as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community joined the massive protest during Monday’s second state of the nation address (SONA) by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Naniniwala kami na andaming ipinangako ni Duterte – na po-protektahan at irerespeto ang karapatan ng LGBT, ang karapatan ng kababaihan at isusulong ang anti-discrimination bill at ordinances. Hindi niya natupad kaya naririto kami para singilin siya,” BAHAGHARI-Metro Manila spokesperson Bernadette Neri said.

More than demanding the president of their representation, the LGBT community also called on Duterte to recognize their basic rights.

A working class LGBT, Alena Lauriua, 19, joined the protest to call on the abolishment of contractualization policies on workers.

Kaya sumama ako rito dahil ramdam ko ang hirap ng mga mamamayang Pilipino. Maraming pangako ang rehimeng Duterte, sa mga mangggawa na ititigil ang kontraktuwalisasyonat endo (end-of-contract) kung saan ito’y hindi pa naipapatupad sa mga kompanya,” Lauriua said.

Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III last year said the Duterte administration will not allow contractualization among workers. Latest data by the Philippine Statistics Authority however reveals there are about 4.5 million non-regular workers in the country a year into the Duterte presidency.

Lauriua is working at a handicraft company where she receives sub-minimum wages.

Free education

Yan Puno, 15, a youth LGBT, attended the rally to call for free education.

[Nanawagan po ako para sa] libre at pang-masang edukasyon,” Puno said.

He is also part of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap who recently occupied around 5,000 idled houses in Pandi, Bulacan. But while they were successful in achieving free housing, youth members of KADAMAY still demands free education as a matter of right and state obligation.

Duterte promised the youth of free education for all starting this school year but later retracted saying he first wants to prioritize ‘financially disadvantaged but academically able students.”

Neri hopes the president would fulfill promises he made last year in first SONA, including the continuation of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front as well as ending martial law in Mindanao.

“Kinakailangan na itong mga kagyat na usapin ay makatugon siya ng positibo para sa mamamayan. Kung tumitindig siya para sa mamamayan ay tumitindig din siya para sa mga LGBT,” she said.#

Bayan: Send Pemberton to Bilibid

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other patriotic organisations held a protest rally in front of Camp Aguinaldo last December 4 to condemn what they believe is preferential treatment to convicted killer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.

According to Aaron Bonette, chairperson of the LGBTQ organisation Bahaghari, Philippine President Benigno Aquino killed Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude for agreeing to a special facility for the US soldier instead of a national Filipino prison as originally ordered by the trial court that convicted him.

The US refused to turn over to Philippine authorities after his conviction last December 1 and instead insisted that Pemberton be brought back to the military camp where it has its own facilities.

Both Philippine and US governments are reported to be jointly building a new jail for Pemberton in accordance with Visiting Forces Agreement provisions.

Patriotic organisations however say that the move is not only unjust to the victim but is in fact another violation of Philippine sovereignty by the US government.

The protest rally also called on the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreementbetween the US and Philippine governments. #

US Marine found guilty of killing Filipino transgender

Militant organizations cheered as the Olongapo Regional Trial Court found US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott guilty of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, they held a vigil rally last December 1 as the promulgation of the judgement was ongoing.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said that the Filipino people should remain vigilant on where the convict would be jailed.

Their fears were proven correct soon after as the Philippine government agreed to returning Pemberton to the US-controlled facility Joint US Military Advisory Group compound inside Camp Aguinaldo.

This move violated the court’s order that Pemberton should first be committed to a Philippine jail facility such as the National Bilibid Prisons pending formal agreements on where the convict should serve the rest of his jail term.

Pemberton should be committed to a Philippine jail, militants insist

Militant organizations held a protest rally while the promulgation of the judgement on US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was being read at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court last December 1.

Pemberton was found guilty of committing homicide in connection with the death of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude last year.

He was sentenced to a minimum of six year and a maximum of 12 years for the crime.

While declaring partial victory over the conviction of the US soldier, the militants said that he should be jailed in a Philippine correctional facility.

They warned that the US government may initiate moves to take custody of the convict and that the Philippine government may agree to such machinations.

They were proven correct when the US and Philippine government immediately agreed to transport Pemberton to a US facility inside Camp Aquinaldo last night.

The move is contrary to the explicit instructions of the court to bring Pemberton to a national jail such as the National Bilibid Prisons.