April 2, 2023

The process of determining recipients of emergency relief in the different barangays has subjected many lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) workers to discrimination, an advocate said.

Van Sanchez, vice president of the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation and a member of the LGBTQ community, faced city officials and City Social Welfare and Development Officer Betty Fangasan on April 20 to speak on behalf of disenfranchised members of the LGBTQ community in the city with regard to the selection of beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Sanchez asked to be clarified about the SAP guidelines with regard to matters concerning the LGBTQ community. She said there are a number of displaced LGBTQ workers who are not considered qualified based on the assessment done by SAP validators.

Sanchez raised concern on the disqualification of some LGBTQ individuals from the SAP based on the rule that the said cash assistance is granted to an eligible family as prescribed by the present guidelines.

“Mahirap talaga sa amin ang magkapamilya, pero may sinusuportahan kami. Marami sa amin ang breadwinners,” Sanchez explained.

Fangasan said that an LGBTQ individual is qualified for the social amelioration if they are living with their parents and siblings and if they are considered the head of the family. However, food packs will be given instead of cash assistance if the individual is living alone, Fangasan added.

Sanchez also asked clarification as to what constitutes a family in order to be qualified for the SAP. She relayed an incident where an LGBTQ couple with an adopted child was not included in the list of beneficiaries.

Fangasan said a gay couple with a legally adopted child is considered a family, thus can be given cash assistance provided they meet the qualifications under the SAP guidelines.

“If they can produce an adoption paper, they (can qualify). Pero kapag wala, food packs ang ibibigay,” Fangasan said.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and ABC president, Councilor Michael Lawana, suggested that barangay officials may issue a certificate attesting to the unique circumstances of an LGBTQ who is in need of social amelioration.

However, Mayor Benjamin Magalong feared this might create complications. The mayor said the guidelines spelled out by the national government must be complied with.

“I wish we could, but we just have to be very careful,” the mayor said. “I-comply muna natin lahat ‘yung mga qualified. I am pretty sure na may sobra diyan. That’s the time we can include them.”

Sanchez also cried foul at the seeming lack of fairness in the selection of Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers grantees, claiming a survey showed the selection favors “male” displaced workers.

Sanchez also requested that the food packs given to the LGBTQ individuals should be sustainable to help them survive the lockdown.

In a Facebook post, Sanchez thanked the City Social Welfare and Development Office and city officials for hearing out the concerns of said minority in the city. – Jordan G. Habbiling