'Bayot, bakla' don't mean 'weak,' transgender bet tells Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Geraldine Roman, the Liberal Party's (LP) bet to represent the 1st district of Bataan, had choice words for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, April 14, during the ruling party’s “show of force” for its standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and running mate Leni Robredo.

Speaking before a hall full of incumbent governors, representatives and mayors, Roman expressed dismay over recent remarks made by the Davao mayor against Roxas.

In the latest version of their ongoing word war. Duterte called Roxas “bayot,” after the latter questioned his capability to end crime. “Bayot” in Bisaya means gay, but it can also be used as a derogatory term.

“You know there's nothing wrong with being bayot, bakla or tomboy (gay or lesbian). It's the way he says it. I sense some sort of malice, so for me that should not be something that should be used against his rivals. We should raise the level of politics,” said Roman, a transgender congressional candidate in the 2016 elections.

Asked on stage for a message to Duterte, the 49-year-old said: “Simple lang, kung gusto niyang maging pangulo ng ating bansa, kailangan maging pangulo siya ng lahat. At pag sinabi mong lahat ng mga mamamayan, that includes yung LGBT community. So a little respect sana. A little respect, the same respect that you would demand from other people.”

(Simple. If he wants to be president of the country, he has to be the president of everybody. And when I say everybody, I mean all Filipinos and that includes the LGBT community. A little respect would be good.)

Duterte is a known advocate for LGBT rights. Davao City has in place an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance that protects women and LGBTs from all forms of discrimination. He has also expressed “openness” to same-sex marriage.

‘Historic’ candidacy

Should Roman win on May 9, she is poised to be the first transgender legislator in Batasan. Roman, the daughter of outgoing Bataan Representative Herminia Roman, said her gender was “not an issue” in the ruling party.

“The goal of all LGBTs is someday, hindi pag-uusapan yung genders, but yung (we don’t talk about gender but) qualifications because we can contribute to the growth of our country,” she said.

Roman also came to Roxas’ defense when quizzed about the LP presidential bet’s stand against making same-sex marriage a “public policy.”

“[The] Constitution is very clear, marriage is defined as between a man and an woman so unless there is a Con-Con, unless you change the Constitution you cannot do anything, not legislate same sex marriage. I guess he's speaking from a practical point of view,” said Roman.

Robredo, meanwhile, has said government should be “open” to allowing civil unions.

Roman acknowledged the difficulties in eventually legalizing same-sex marriage in the Philippines – a huge majority in Congress would be needed to change the Constitution, for example.

To be realistic nakikita ko yung conservative stance ng maraming kongresista. Titingnan natin as time goes by, malay niyo baka magbago ang kanilang pananaw pag nakilala nila ako,” she added.

(I see the conservative stance of many legislators. Let’s see because as time goes by, they might change their minds when they get to know me.) – Rappler.com