‘Lahat kwalipikado’: Vico Sotto’s COVID-19 financial aid for Pasig residents include LGBTQ+ couples

May 6, 2020 - 6:38 PM
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Vico Sotto with Filipinos
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto with Filipinos during the Department of Health's vaccination campaign at Pasig City Elementary School on July 16, 2019. (Philstar/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV)

The Pasig City government included LGBTQ+ couples with children in its emergency cash subsidy program initiated by the national government to financially support Filipinos amid the community quarantine.

Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto in a Facebook livestream on Tuesday announced that the city government will start to distribute cash assistance to families who were not able to receive funds from the national government’s social amelioration program.

The city chief said that around 160,000 qualified families will receive P8,000 to support themselves while the community quarantine is in place.

Thousands of workers have been affected by the enhanced community quarantine that banned onsite work in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and limit public movement.

“Lahat po. ‘Pag sinabi ko pong lahat, ibig sabihin lahat. Kasama po ang nangungupahan. Basta residente ng Pasig,” Sotto said as he addressed his constituents.

Families who are qualified include those belonging in traditional or nuclear families, grandparents who have grandchildren, solo parents, childless couples and LGBTQ+ couples with children.

Ito ang Guidelines para sa Pasig City Social Amelioration Program. Makakatanggap ng P8,000 ang bawat Pamilyang…

Posted by Pasig City Public Information Office on Monday, May 4, 2020

 

This announcement delighted the local online community who lauded Sotto for taking into consideration the LGBT+ community in the city government’s emergency cash subsidy program.

Part of the guidelines released by the city’s public information office states:

“LGBTQ na nagsasama kung mayroong anak na ang apelyido ay sumusunod sa isa sa mga nagsasamang LGBTQ, ito ay kinikilalang pamilya.” 

Vince Liban, a national convener at the Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders or PANTAY, considered the initiative of Pasig “a big step” in recognizing LBGBT+ rights.

Just heard the good news that Mayor @VicoSotto included LGBT couples w/ children as ‘FAMILIES’ in the guidelines for supplemental SAP in Pasig,” he wrote.

“This is a big step in recognizing that LGBT families are no different from other families, even just in an LGU (local government unit). Salamat, Pasig!!!” Liban added.

Another online user similarly called it “a huge step for (the) LGBT+” community.

A Filipino likewise lauded the city government’s initiative and summarized it in one word.

The inclusivity of Pasig stretches to those living in condominium units, as mentioned by the city chief in a now-viral video where a resident asked him if they would be given financial aid as well.

Joel Garcia commented on Sotto’s livestream just after the latter had mentioned that every one in Pasig is qualified to receive a cash subsidy.

“Hindi malalagpasan ang (mga asa) condo, kasama po ang mga (asa) condo sa supplementary SAP,” Sotto responded after he briefly reacted to Garcia’s comment on-air, which amused some Twitter users.

Why it’s considered a ‘big step’ 

The Philippines is often touted as one of the more accepting countries in the Asian region when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community but couples belonging to this sector do not enjoy the same rights as those in heterosexual relationships.

For instance, same-sex marriage is not yet recognized by the law so LGBTQ+ couples who have a child do not have full parental rights over the young individual despite acting as parents.

Lawyer Gettie Sandoval, one of the proponents of the Magna Carta of Women or Republic Act 9523, said in an interview that only one of the LGBTQ+ couple could be legally recognized as the parent of the child.

This would affect legal issues that would arise in case one of the LGBTQ+ parent dies, such as the right to inheritance.

As of February 2020, three lawmakers have filed for the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill that aims to recognize the LGBTQ+ community’s rights in the country.