By Rommel F. Lopez

Sen. Risa Hontiveros believes that both the trans woman who was barred from entering a woman’s comfort room and the mall janitress were both victims, and called for the passage of bills on anti-discrimination and security of tenure.

Gretchen Diez was barred from using the women’s comfort room of a mall in Cubao, Quezon City by Chayra Ganal, the janitress, on Aug. 13.

Diez, who took a Facebook live video of the incident, was later brought to the police station and handcuffed after reportedly declining to take down the video. Hours later, Diez was set free after the janitress and the mall dropped their complaints for unjust vexation.

Diez however filed complaints against Farmer’s Plaza and Ganal for allegedly violating a Quezon City anti-discrimination ordinance.

“Sa insidenteng ito, dalawa ang maliwanag na biktima. Ang isa ay biktima ng diskriminasyon at kawalan ng pagkapantay-pantay. Ang isa naman ay biktima ng ENDO (end of contract) o labor contractualization,” Hontiveros said.

The opposition senator added that Ganal, who works for an outsourced agency contracted by the mall, was not given “adequate gender sensitivity trainings, and her “lack of security of tenure has kept her job and source of income hanging on a fine thread every day.”

She said the incident demonstrated the urgent need to pass both the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality or SOGIE Bill and the Security of Tenure (SOT) Bill “to put an end to the many faces of oppression.”

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Hontiveros asked her colleagues at the Senate to pass the SOGIE bill.

“I am calling my colleagues in this plenary at sa Kongreso, ipasa na natin ang SOGIE equality bill. Para kay Gretchen, para sa lahat ng Filipino lesbians, gays, transgenders, intersex, queers, at asexuals, na matagal nang nakaposas sa panghuhusga, pangmamatâ, at diskriminasyon,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman denied that the incident was “staged” after calls to pass the proposed SOGIE bill were heightened after the incident.

“That theory is really out of this world,” Roman said in an interview over at ANC.

Roman was criticized for her “quick appearance” at the police station, which some netizens said was proof that the whole thing was “planned.”

“I was about to sleep already… tapos nagsisitawagan sa ‘kin yung mga advocates,” Roman said.

“They requested me to go there. They said maybe my presence would maybe remind the policemen to respect Gretchen,” Roman added.

Roman said transgender women faced some “danger” since they “might be verbally abused,” among “other possibilities,” when they go to a police station.