The City of Golden Friendship made a mark to end discrimination after the city council of Cagayan de Oro approved the Equality and Diversity Ordinance on August 10, 2020.
It can be recalled that the Technical Working Group (TWG) of which Equal Access International-Philippines is a part of, first convened in September 2019 to create an ordinance that ‘prohibits discriminatory acts based on various attributes, including religion, sexual orientation, and gender’. The approval of the ordinance comes with the establishment of a Commission tasked to implement its policies and promote affirmative action in the public and private sectors. The ordinance was authored and sponsored by City Councilor Gerlie Balaba, Committee Head for Social Services.
“It is just so amazing to see our fight for justice and dignity in the local level bear fruits. But then again, these are just nice words on paper. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, laws may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless. But this is the start, nonetheless. The march for a more just and humane society continues”, expressed Atty. Ernesto Neri, Chair of the TWG, in his Facebook post shared moments after the ordinance was approved with finality.
Tingug CDO (Voice of CDO), Persons with Disabilities Act Affairs Office, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, and the Inter-Faith Council, were among the organizations along with EAI-Philippines in the TWG.
CDO now joins other major cities (Davao City, General Santos City, Quezon City) in the country with an anti-discrimination ordinance, and is one in the ‘long march towards a more inclusive, humane, and tolerant society’.