by; Ame-Phil O. Saquiban
In the Philippines, the government is replete with programs and projects to uphold the value of equality especially in terms of sex and age. It made a point that male and female have equal rights and opportunities in terms of employment, livelihood, and access to public grants. There are laws crafted for the protection and benefits of the vulnerable sectors of society specifically the elderlies, the children, and the women such as the Senior Citizens Act, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children, the Magna Carta for Women, and the Act Providing Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination. There is a National Women’s Month Celebration but there is no National Men’s Month Celebration. The maternity leave is now expanded to 105 days in the advent of the Expanded Maternity Leave law while the paternity leave remained seven (7) days. This reflects the extra sensitivity of the authorities of the plight of women who may be put to disadvantage if not given attention to.
Further, the law that apparently discriminates women is being sought to be amended particularly the law on concubinage and adultery under the Revised Penal Code. The law places a greater burden upon married women than men due to the differences in the elements of the crimes, the evidentiary proof required, and the penalties imposed upon the offenders. This is in pursuance to Article 2, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men”.
The abovementioned facts are just among the actions taken by the State to ensure equality in terms of gender and age. However, there are other areas in life that equality should be made applicable. Among others is the living status of people. The bigger the disparity in terms of income bracket, the greater the variations of social classes and the more difficult the life will be to the less privileged. The rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer. The strong becomes stronger and the weak becomes weaker. The government, nonetheless, is not oblivious to this phenomenon. New laws on taxation were passed in order to give tax exemption to low income earner. Tuition fee in tertiary grade was also given for free in state universities and colleges in order to uplift the lives of those below poverty line. Moreover, the State through the social welfare department endeavors to provide subsidy to the indigent populace.
Well said! The Republic is doing its part. However, every individual member of society should do his or her part especially those in the position of leadership, both in public and private sector. If those in higher echelon will not abuse their authority and will not undermine the rights of others, avoiding selfish gain at the expense of others, equality is best achieve in the Philippines. While there are existing mechanisms in place to level the playing field, each and every Filipino should continue to observe justice and fairness in their conduct. As the Philippine Civil Code states, “every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith”. Until this provision of the law is observed completely, the underprivileged will always remain at the mercy of those who have means. This should come to an end. As citizens of this country, we should be participants in realizing equality by subduing ourselves from exploiting others’ welfare.
CRFV Winning Team
A company of men and women who have committed their lives to the cause of national transformation.