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Hontiveros asks colleagues to reconsider divorce, SOGIE bills

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros appealed to the Senate leadership to rethink its stance on her two controversial measures – divorce and SOGIE equality bills – amid reports that these have a slim chance of passing at the Senate.

Hontiveros was sought for her reaction after Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said that the proposed “Dissolution of Marriage Act” would just languish in the Senate because more senators oppose it.

“That is not the priority bill of the Senate. That will go through the eye of a needle,” Estrada said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Hontiveros asked for a chance to defend the bill that her women and family relations committee passed last year but was left to languish by the previous Senate leadership.

“I and other divorce advocates are just asking for a fair fight to defend the measure that would give others a second chance at love,” Hontiveros said during the Kapihan sa Senado forum on Wednesday.

Even while more senators have come out to oppose the divorce bill passed by the House of Representatives before the break, Hontiveros said she was reassured by Senate President Francis Escudero’s statement that he would put the controversial measure to a “conscience vote.”

The senators who have openly opposed divorce are Escudero, Estrada, Juan Miguel Zubiri, majority leader Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, Ronald dela Rosa and Cynthia Villar.

Meanwhile, the following senators signed the divorce bill committee report for either supporting it or being open to tackle it on the floor – Hontiveros, minority leader Koko Pimentel, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Imee Marcos, Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla and JV Ejercito.

Meanwhile, Hontiveros said she was unfazed at Escudero’s statement that her bill seeking to penalize discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) faces rough sailing at the Senate.

Escudero earlier said a more comprehensive anti-discrimination bill – based not just on SOGIESC, but also on religious beliefs, race, age, among other characteristics – has a better chance in the chamber.

“There is a need for a SOGIESC Equality bill because it is