Showing posts with label Philippines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philippines. Show all posts

December 8, 2016

Thanks to a Deadly Corrupt Duterte Gov. HIV Rates are Out of Control ‘No Condoms No Testing’

 A friend of mine in California with friends and trips to the Philippines told me unless you work and have good insurance there are no HIV meds in the Philippines for you. He said "the government sees these people as throw aways and they are deplorable that have no redemption. The sooner they die the better off the government is.”

Policies like restricting gay men from using condoms while having sex are causing an HIV epidemic in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday, 8 December.

According to official statistics, there has been a tenfold rise in the prevalence of the sexually transmitted virus in the country, the 46-page report, titled "Fuelling the Philippines' HIV Epidemic: Government Barriers to Condom Use by Men Who Have Sex With Men" notes.
The group said that among all Asia-Pacific nations, the Philippines is facing one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics. It blamed the national and local governments for failing to address the growing HIV prevalence among gay men, which emerged as the biggest source of the spread of the deadly virus in the recent past.

The report states that although President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessors took adequate measures in the 1990s to prevent HIV spread in the country, they focused only on commercial sex workers and completely ignored same sex relations. The government even ignored data from the Department of Health that indicated that 81% of the 35,000 recorded HIV cases in the country between 1984 and June 2016 have been among men who have sex with men. The first HIV case was recorded in the country in 1984.

HIV Epidemic

Human Rights Watch has warned the Philippine government of an HIV epidemic in the country due to policies preventing gay men access to condoms and HIV testing facilities

"President Duterte has inherited a legacy of failed or counterproductive policies of previous administrations that are contributing to the alarming increase in HIV infections among men who have sex with men," Carlos H Conde, a Philippines researcher, said in a statement released by the human rights group.

"Reducing HIV transmission isn't rocket science. But it does require the Duterte government to implement an HIV prevention program and remove obstacles to condom and HIV testing access so that young Filipinos – particularly men who have sex with men – can protect themselves from an otherwise preventable illness," the researcher added.

According to health department data for 2015, at least 11 cities in the Philippines have recorded HIV prevalence rates of more than 5% among gay men, with the second largest city, Cebu City, recording a 15% prevalence rate.

The overall prevalence rate for the Asia-Pacific region is 0.2% and for Sub-Saharan Africa, it is 4.7%, which are way lower than the prevalence rates recorded in the Philippines, the report notes, adding that the dismal scenario was a result of “longstanding resistance of the Roman Catholic Church to sexual health education and condom use".

November 22, 2016

Duterte Might Have Lost His Teflon Thanks to Long Dead Marcos

Philippines Dictator Ferdinand Marcos admirer President Duterte Might have put his foot on the wrong grave.
Like Trump in the US nothing seems to stick to this criminal President. One who orders killings of suspected drug users and sellers alike. His voting block has ignore the thousands of killings during this year but there is one dead stiff he might have offended the nation with. That is Ferdinand Marcos who has not been allowed a proper burial there because of the memories of the people of his regime. He did nothing different Duterte is done except Duterte uses drugs as an excuse to get rid of people he sees as a threat or just simply don’t like, when Marcos used the Commies for doing the same thing. (adamfoxie blog)

Libingan ng Mga Bayani National Heroes Cemetary

The bitter taste left by the “hero’s” burial for former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, with outrage fueling protests, reveals deep divides between Filipino society and its ruling classes. Reflecting on the abuses of power during Marcos’ dark 21-year reign, including nine years under martial law, should lead to comparisons with the current strongman in the presidential palace.
Despite new President Rodrigo Duterte’s landslide victory on a wildly anti-establishment platform, Duterte supported Marcos’ burial in the national Heroes’ Cemetery, asking the country to “forgive” their long-time oppressor. The issue of Marcos’ final resting place, like Duterte’s so-called “drug menace,” was not of any major national concern less than a year ago. Marcos died 25 years ago. The only people the least bit concerned with the ghoulish idea of moving his corpse to lie alongside national heroes were a small but powerful cabal of Marcos-clan supporting elites.
From his rhetoric, you would be forgiven for expecting Duterte to have railed against such a public measure and such elitist forces. But as with most populist rhetoric, Duterte’s anti-elitism belies a cynical manipulation of existing fears. Duterte aimed his ire at some in the establishment, but not all. He has created a strong sense of resentment toward particular figures that dare to question his methods while creating new cronies and resurrecting old establishment figures.
Senator Alan Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate, who came third in the race for vice president, leads a group of new Duterte loyalists, including the fading boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, also a senator. Duterte’s 28-year career in provincial politics, and 10 years prior in the state prosecutor’s office, makes him a member of the establishment, even if his gutter vocabulary masks his elitist position in Filipino society.  But his provincial standing meant Duterte had to cozy up to established national figures for support — especially given that the vice presidential election resulted in victory for a potentially opposing force, Liberal party nominee Leni Robredo.
When former President Gloria Arroyo had her corruption charges dismissed in July, she had Duterte to thank.  In return, she now supports his lawless war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of extra-judicial killings and a growing chance of a warrant from the International Criminal Court. Furthermore Arroyo is now one of the notable voices leading the public lynching of Duterte’s only real opponent in Filipino politics, former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. Arroyo and others (including Pacquiao) take turns smearing De Lima, threatening to show a sex tape in the Senate and accusing her of being a drug lord and running her drug empire from the country’s notoriously corrupt prisons.
Sandwiched somewhere between the ugly combination of Duterte’s new and old allies, the specter of the Marcos dictatorship has a very real political face — his son. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as Bongbong, narrowly lost the vice presidential election to Robredo by less than single percentage point. Bongbong’s ties to Duterte are hardly distant; only last month, whilst in China, Duterte said Marcos could be the next vice president if his legal challenge to the narrow election loss is upheld. The bond is a public allegiance that goes back a year to the beginning of the campaign, when Duterte said that Bongbong would take over if he failed to stop crime in three months.
Almost six months into his term, while the calamitous war on drugs has generated an obvious omertà from which few are able to speak out, Duterte has a gaping Marcos-shaped weakness. Through his relationship with Bongbong and support for the elder Marcos’ burial, it may not take much for ill sentiment to become public and realigned at the palace.
For very little political gain, perhaps only loyalty, Duterte has risked turning the outrage behind #MarcosNOTaHero into #Du30NOTaHero. While such a dramatic shift will surely take time, the longer the drug killings continue, the more likely the backlash is. Despite a life in politics Duterte has displayed a lack of political instinct in some of his calculations and a dangerous reckless streak, extending into international affairs.
The Marcos gamble has backfired already and brought the popular vice president into the public eye, with Robredo passive-aggressively shaming her boss on Twitter over the burial. With the president endorsing an authoritarian past, the Philippines has another stark warning of the future of a Duterte-led country. While held accountable for this protest, however, Duterte still has plenty of apologists to come to his aid. If the Marcos burial does not end up being the moment the tide changed, it will be another time a warning was missed.
By Dr. Tom Smith who is a Lecturer in International Relations for the University of Portsmouth based at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. He specializes in terrorism, political violence, and insurgencies with a focus on Southeast Asia.

September 7, 2016

Duterte Cursing DPL’s Without Penalty, Until Obama!/Drugs?Contract Out on U:’Duterte’

 Duterte foul mouth Gets Him to pay a price this time with US President Obama

 US President Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had earlier called him a "son of a whore".
Mr Duterte was responding to the US president's promise to raise the issue of drug-related extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at their meeting.
The Philippine leader, known for his colorful language, has insulted prominent figures before, but has never said sorry or expressed regrets but this time it has had diplomatic consequences.
He has now said he regrets the remark.
"While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president," a statement by his office said. 
 In the past, President Duterte has called Pope Francis the "son of a whore", US Secretary of State John Kerry "crazy" and recently referred to the US ambassador to the Philippines a "gay son of a whore".
Both he and President Obama are in Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

Duterte's apology: Analysis by Karishma Vaswani in Laos

Mr Duterte has been forced to apologise for offensive comments before, but this is the first time he has had to confront the reality of his outlandish behaviour on the international stage
It is the president's first overseas trip - an opportunity that many leaders would have used to cement ties with neighbouring countries and superpowers like China and the US. 
Instead Mr Duterte has spent the morning dampening down the controversy he created. 
At the heart of this is the fact that Mr Duterte isn't used to being told what to do; and that he likes to display machismo and bravado, which plays well to his domestic audience. 
But when he sits down for serious discussions with his Asean counterparts over the next couple of days, they'll be looking for Asian discretion and subtlety, not diplomacy Duterte-style. 

How the row escalated

Mr Obama, who flew to Laos after attending the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, had been set to raise concerns about human rights abuses in the Philippines. 
But speaking in Manila on Monday before he left for Laos, Mr Duterte bristled at the suggestion, saying the Philippines "has long ceased to be a colony".
"Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum," he then said, using a Tagalog phrase for "son of a whore" or "son of a bitch".

US President Obama arrives in Vientiane, Laos, on 6 September 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionBarack Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Laos
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives for the Asean summit in Laos on 6 September 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionThis is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's first overseas trip - and already controversial

Mr Obama initially appeared to play down the insult, calling his Philippine counterpart a "colourful character" and saying he had asked his aides to work out if this is "a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations".
His aides later cancelled the talks. 
Mr Obama's last scheduled trip to Asia as president has not been without incident: he was also caught up in a protocol row with hosts China over his arrival in Hangzhou.

Philippine police in a raid on suspected drug smugglers in Manila on 5 September 2016Image copyrightAFP
Image captionRodrigo Duterte's tough talk on crime helped him to a landslide victory in May's elections

In his comments on Monday, President Duterte pledged to continue with his anti-drugs campaign that has led to the killing of 2,400 suspected drug dealers and users in the Philippines since he took office in June.
"Many will die, plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets... until the [last] drug manufacturer is killed we will continue," he said.
  • Duterte accuses judges of drugs, He put out links
  • The woman who kills drug dealers for a living:
The UN has repeatedly condemned Mr Duterte's policies as a violation of human rights. In August, two UN human rights experts said Mr Duterte's directive for police and the public to kill suspected drug traffickers amounted to "incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law".
This round of Asean talks comes against the backdrop of tensions over China's territorial ambitions in the South China Sea - the Philippines and the US are key players in that debate.

The Philippines is in the midst of a brutal war on drugs sanctioned by the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, which has seen almost 2,000 killings in a matter of weeks. The BBC’s Jonathan Head explores the country’s dark underbelly of dealers and assassins through the story of one woman trapped in a chilling predicament.

When you meet an assassin who has killed six people, you don't expect to encounter a diminutive, nervous young woman carrying a baby. "My first job was two years ago in this province nearby. I felt really scared and nervous because it was my first time.

  • Often called "ice" or "crystal meth" in the West, Shabu is the term used for a pure and potent form of amphetamine in the Philippines and other parts of Asia.
  • Shabu costs about 1,000 Philippines peso per gram ($22; £16)
  • It can be smoked, injected, snorted or dissolved in water
  • The Philippines is home to industrial-scale labs producing tones of the drug - which is then distributed throughout Asia. 
  • Mr Duterte describes it as a pandemic, afflicting millions of his fellow citizens. It is also very profitable. He has listed 150 senior officials, officers and judges linked to the trade. Five police generals, he says, are kingpins of the business. But it is those at the lowest levels of the trade who are targeted by the death squads.
According to the police more than 1,900 people have been killed in drug-related incidents since he took office on 30 June. Of those, they say, 756 were killed by the police, all, they say, while resisting arrest. The remaining deaths are, officially, under investigation. 
In practice most will remain unexplained. Nearly all those whose bloodied bodies are discovered every night in the slums of Manila and other cities are the poor - pedicab drivers, casual labourers, the unemployed. Often, found next to them are cardboard signs warning others not to get involved in drugs. This is a war being fought almost exclusively in the poorest parts of the country. People like Maria are used as its agents. 

Duterte's war on drugs 

Since 1 July 

drug deaths
  • 10,153 drug dealers arrested 
  • 1,160 deaths still being investigated 
  • 756 suspects killed by police 
  • 300 officers suspected of involvement 
But it is a popular war. In Tondo, the shantytown area next to Manila port, most of the residents applaud the president's tough campaign. They blamed the "shabu" scourge for rising crime, and for destroying lives, although some worried that the campaign was getting out of hand, and that innocent victims were being caught up in it. 
One of those being hunted by the death squads is Roger - again not his real name.
He became addicted to shabu as a young man, he says, while working as a casual labourer. Like many addicts he began dealing to support his habit, as it was a more comfortable job than labouring. He worked a lot with corrupt police officers, sometimes taking portions of the drug hauls they confiscated in raids to sell.

Roger, not his real name, is a drug dealer and an addict.Image copyrightJONATHAN HEAD

Now he is on the run, moving from place to place every few days to avoid being tracked down and killed.
"Every day, every hour, I cannot get the fear out of my chest. It's really tiring and scary to hide all the time. You don't know if the person right in front of you will inform on you, or if the one facing you might be a killer. It's hard to sleep at night. One small noise, I wake up. And the hardest part of all is I don't know who to trust, I don't know which direction to go every day, looking for a place to hide."

A woman sweeping the front of her house in Happyland a dump site in Tondo, ManilaImage copyrightCARLO GABUCO

He does feel guilt about his role in the trade of this destructive drug.
"I do truly believe that I have committed sins. Big time. I have done many awful things. I've wronged a lot people because they've become addicted, because I'm one of the many who sells them drugs. But what I can say is that not everyone who uses drugs is capable of committing those crimes, of stealing, and eventually killing. I'm also an addict but I don't kill. I'm an addict but I don't steal."
He has sent his children to live with his wife's family in the countryside, to try to stop them being exposed to the drug epidemic. He estimates that between 30% and 35% of people in his neighbourhood are addicts.

A girl sleeping on the side of the street in Parola Tondo Area, Manila CityImage copyrightCARLO GABUCO

So when President Duterte stated several times during his presidential campaign that he would kill drug dealers, throw their bodies into Manila Bay, did Roger not take that threat seriously?
"Yes, but I thought he would go after the big syndicates who manufacture the drugs, not the small time dealers like me. I wish I could turn the clock back. But it is too late for me. I cannot surrender, because if I do the police will probably kill me."

Many families living inside a warehouse beside a dumpsite in Happyland Tondo, Manila.
Maria, not her real name, now carries out contract killings as part of the government-sanctioned war on drugs.

She is part of a hit team that includes three women, who are valued because they can get close to their victims without arousing the same suspicion a man would.

Since President Duterte was elected, and urged citizens and police to kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, Maria has killed five more people, shooting them 
all in the head. 

Maria, not her real name, is an assassin for hire.
She is part of a hit team that includes three women, who are valued because they can get close to their victims without arousing the same suspicion a man would
Maria also regrets the choice she has made. 
"I feel guilty and it is hard on my nerves. I don't want the families of those I have killed to come after me."
She worries about what her children will think. "I do not want them to come back at us and say that they got to live because we killed for money." Already her older boy asks questions about how she and her husband earn so much. 
She has one more hit, one more contract to fulfill, and would like that to be her last. But her boss has threatened to kill anyone who leaves the team. She feels trapped. She asks her priest for forgiveness at confession in church, but does not dare to tell him what she does. 

Homes in Tondo, ManilaImage copyrightCARLO GABUCO

Does she feel any justification carrying out President Duterte's campaign to terrorise the drug trade into submission?
"We only talk about the mission, how to carry it out," she says. "When it is finished we never talk about it again."

But she wrings her hands as she speaks and keeps her eyes shut tight, pursued by thoughts she does not want to share
Maria and her husband come from an impoverished neighbourhood of Manila and had no regular income before agreeing to become contract killers. They earn up to 20,000 Philippines pesos ($430; £327) per hit, which is shared between three or four of them. That is a fortune for low-income Filipinos, but now it looks as if Maria has no way out.

President Duterte came to power promising to crack down on crime and drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila on August 17, 2016.

 Contract killing is nothing new in the Philippines. But the hit squads have never been as busy as they are now. President Duterte has sent out an unambiguous message.
Ahead of his election, he promised to kill 100,000 criminals in his first six months in office.
And he has warned drug dealers in particular: "Do not destroy my country, because I will kill you." 
Last weekend he reiterated that blunt view, as he defended the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals.
"Do the lives of 10 of these criminals really matter? If I am the one facing all this grief, would 100 lives of these idiots mean anything to me?”   

Originally posted on Edited for and by adamfoxie*blog

August 9, 2016

An AntiGay Philippines President Calls US Ambassador ‘Gay Son of a Bitch’

US Ambassador Goldberg(L Philippines Pres. Duterte(R
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the U.S. ambassador to the island nation by calling him "gay." Duterte was discussing his recent campaign for president with soldiers in Cebu last week, when he singled out Philip Goldberg, who has served as ambassador to the Philippines since November 2013 and has been critical of Duterte’s remarks about sexual violence.

Duterte told the soldiers he and Goldberg disagreed during the campaign after Duterte made a joke about the rape and murder of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill during a 1989 Davao City prison riot. "I am OK with him," Duterte said of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, before adding, "I quarreled with his gay ambassador. I am pissed with him. He meddled during the election, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that.”

He also added, according to Yonhap news agency: “That son of a bitch really annoyed me."   Australian Embassy," Goldberg said in an interview aired by CNN Philippines in April. “Any statements by anyone, anywhere that either degrade women or trivialize issues so serious as rape or murder, are not ones that we condone."

Duterte responded that Goldberg "should not interfere with our national election," and threatened to end relations with the U.S., an important ally in the South China Sea amid rising tensions with China over territorial claims. Duterte went on to win the presidency in May with roughly 38.9 percent of the vote.

Cristina Silva

Ambassador Goldberg has had his problems with other head of states(as noted below) however for an elected President of a nation to call him gay says more about the head of state than about the Ambassador. Pres. Duarte is a homophobe leader of a homophobe country that calls itself Catholic.

They have a run away case of HIV transmissions only worse by certain parts in Africa. Getting HIV there means no meds no treatment except homeopathic attempts to control a deadly virus. The government does not supply meds and the little amount available is donated by other nations particularly the US and the Clinton foundation. I have spoken to HIV Philippines that feel the government wants to get rid of them seeing them as gay and as a waste and sees HIV/Aids as a way to cleanse itself of that population. So they do nothing to alleviate the problem waiting for infected people to die off. This does not apply to people with money which are able to import their own meds or get ahead of lists of donated treatments. Duterte in his vocabulary of words that diminishes the humanity of what he sees as an adversary sees nothing worse than calling somebody ‘gay.’

 If you think the Philippines is a third world country with government after government being corrupt all the ways back to the Marco’s regime. you are correct  The Philippines show that Democracy is not an outfit that every nation can wear. The fact is that this nation is done no better in a democracy than with the dictatorship of Marcos and his shoe craze wife Imelda.

The main problem has been the lack of education and of a working economy to produce jobs. Without those two there is no way a nation can move forward. As far as education, this is the least of the priorities of a corrupt government. History show the more educated the populace, the least a corrupt government can get away with silly lies like blaming others for its own manufactured problems. Talking about manufactured problems according to VICE cheap non identifiable guns is its main export to the US and other places where cheap untraceable guns are in demand for crime.
Adam Gonzalez

US Ambassador Goldberg’s  Service Background (Wikipedia):

 President George W. Bush nominated Philip S. Goldberg as Ambassador to Bolivia and his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 3, 2006. Goldberg presented his credentials to Bolivian President Evo Morales on October 13, 2006.

In August 2007, the United States was accused by Government Minister Juan Ramón Quintana of funding opposition to President Morales by providing opposition leaders and critical think-tanks with millions of dollars. According to Quintana, the US Government Aid agency, USAID, had implied by reference in documents in Bolivia's possession that funding was to help restore democracy to Bolivia.Morales indirectly threatened retaliation against the ambassador for interference with Bolivia's government. Tom Casey, a spokesman for the State Department, denied these allegations.

On September 10, 2008, the Bolivian Government gave 72 hours for Ambassador Goldberg to leave the country, after declaring him persona non grata. The Telegraph reported on September 12, 2008 that President Morales had been angered by a meeting between Goldberg and Santa Cruz Governor Rubén Costas. Costas, founder of Autonomy for Bolivia, has pressed for democracy and autonomy for Bolivia’s regions. Morales had accused Goldberg of plotting against Bolivia's government.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Goldberg indicated a belief that several factors had come into play in his expulsion, including the influence of Venezuela, and that "[i]t was part of the general policy of the Bolivian government for Morales to attack the United States. Immediately prior to leaving Bolivia, Goldberg had said that Morales' decision would have "serious consequences of several sorts which apparently have not been correctly evaluated". The US State Department issued an official statement saying that Bolivia had committed a grave error and that the allegations against Goldberg were baseless. The statement also indicated that:

President Morales’ action is a grave error that has seriously damaged the bilateral relationship.... We regret that President Morales has chosen this course. It will prejudice the interests of both countries, undermine the ongoing fight against drug-trafficking, and will have serious regional implications.

Ambassador to the Philippines[edit]
In 2013, U.S President Barack Obama appointed Goldberg as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, replacing Harry K. Thomas Jr. who had been assigned to the country since 2010. Goldberg's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate, and he was sworn in on 23 November 2013.

March 7, 2016

Boxer Politician Manny Pacquiao Pays Price for Throwing Gays to Hell


Eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is experiencing the brunt of the consequences of the previous remarks he made about same-sex marriage.

In mid-February, "Pacman" appeared on Philippine news outlet TV5 where he was asked about his stance on the said issue. Confidently, Pacquiao responded, bearing his strong religious beliefs with him.
"It's common sense," Pacquiao said in his native language.  ill you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female?"

Pacquiao added that human beings are "worse than animals" because of the said behavior.
The Filipino boxing icon immediately received a ton of flak from his statements, evidently from the LGBT community. Pacquiao has since apologized for his statements but also noted that his stance about same-sex marriage remains unchanged.

Eventually, more personalities grew irate, including the likes of Magic Johnson, former WWE superstar Batista, and even former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who has been known as one of his friends and supporters
Apparel sponsor Nike also cut their ties with Pacquiao.
And it looks like the backlash has not ended. In a report by Edward Chaykovsky for Boxingscene, Pacquiao's political aspirations are also taking a hit back in his home country of the Philippines.
Chaykovsky's report took note of a recent Pulse Asia survey conducted on the Philippine senatorial candidates. In the said survey, Pacquiaos voter support took a massive drop, from 46.9% in January, to 34.8% in February when the said statements were made.

It is said to be the biggest drop among the senatorial candidates, with a 12.1% decrease.
Despite the issue that Pacquiao is facing, Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda says they still do not know what could have caused the major drop in ratings.
Pacquiao, who also currently serving as a Congressman of the Sarangani Province in the southern region of the country, is slated to take on his 66th and final fight on April 9 in a rubber match against former WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley.
The fight will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Story image for manny pacquiao news from The Independent

March 1, 2016

Open Letter to Philippine Boxer/Politician Who said “Gays are Worse than Animals”

 Manny Pacquiao

I NEVER chose to be gay. In fact, I had been fighting it for almost a decade. I broke friendships out of fear and loathing that I could be one of them.

And then, when I finally realized I could no longer suffocate myself within the thick walls of denial, I put up; I accepted who I really am. Now there’s this politician who preaches like he’s some sort of God-appointed messiah condemning my existence, and he says that I am abominable. That I am a sin walking on two legs. That I am worse than animals.

Well, to the preacher by night, boxer by day, and congressman out of sheer luck, I do not condemn you. I do not abhor your existence on the soil I was born to. I do not even seek to criticize the many absences you have incurred in the House or Representatives. 

I am a human born under the oath to do good in this world, to not hold a grudge against those who will seek to destroy my values, and to always seek a better understanding of things that challenge my principles. I dare not say that I am better than you, for you might have only been misguided, misinformed or just unperceptive. But you insulted the very book that had nourished my values since I was young. You insulted the man and woman who had instilled in me the right to live, love and be respected. You judged inadequate the friendships I have earned from accepting each person’s individuality and, therefore, differences.

Perhaps you do not have the capacity to understand all these. Perhaps you chose to attach the foulest word to the already negative stigma of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community because negative publicity is still publicity, after all. You are entitled to your opinion. But you have propagated judgment of a community too complex for anyone like you to understand. And we did not ask for that. We did not ask for one of the famous Filipino icons in this century to compare us to animals solely because animals are much better at knowing who to partner and procreate with.

Do you know what it’s like to have all your belongings taken from you because the union between you and your deceased partner of 25 years is not legally recognized in this country? Do you know the inner struggle an adolescent endures in accepting his sexuality when his dad condemns the “gay lifestyle” every dinner time? Did you ever, for a second (before you delivered the most asinine, tactless remarks in your career), ask your assistant to verify if animals indeed do not practice homosexuality? I bet your science teacher would not be so proud of you.

What you said is indeed most unfortunate for me. I had the chance to sit a few seats away from you back when you had just won your second major boxing world title, the IBF Super Bantamweight. I was 12, still young, but I was already confounded by my intense crush on a fellow female student. You were quite modest and self-deprecating for a celebrity. It was humbling to have met you back when you were still not pressured to seek a public post and build your own church.

I held that image of you—a nice guy from Mindanao who carried the banner of the whole Filipino nation and fought for recognition by the international community. Though I am not a fan of the sport, I salute your battles for you united this nation in your winning bouts. But, Manny Pacquiao, I ask of you not to divide this country on such a universal struggle as the fight for LGBTQIA rights. Maybe you are still unaware of your duties as a political figure, an influential icon, or a hero to many of my countrymen. Maybe you are unaware that what you said had caused a ripple in our society, the consequences of which could be devastating especially to members of the LGBTQIA community who look up to you. Or maybe you are just a man who sees only what he wants to see and hears only what he wants to hear. I thought it was futile to hope that you would fight for my right to be recognized in the country I dearly love.

On a final note, I read that you had apologized by saying you were only quoting the Bible. Perhaps you got lost in translating English to Filipino. Even Pope Francis was mindful enough not to judge us. The Pope said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Let me rephrase it for you, Manny. If someone is running for a seat in the Senate and he says that gays are worse than animals, who is he to judge?
Breccia Zerda, 26, French-German, is a financial analyst at FactSet Philippines Inc.

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