RESOLUTION No. 555, series of 2021, intended to ensure equal protection, fair treatment and opportunities to former persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), has been signed by Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
The resolution cites Section 3, Article 13 of the 1987 Constitution, which mandates the state to protect labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized alike, as well as promote and provide full employment and equality of employment opportunities for every Filipino citizen.
The city council states that former PDLs frequently experience discrimination in terms of employment and livelihood due to the social stigma associated with being charged and detained in jail.
The council also claims that such difficulties in finding gainful and meaningful employment is a factor in prison recidivism, or the tendency of former PDLs to reoffend and violate the law again.
This has prompted Councilor Elaine Sembrano tp push for an ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination against former inmates residing in Baguio, which has been approved on first reading.
Under Sembrano’s proposed ordinance, refusal to hire or discrimination against individuals in the form of improper compensation, terms, conditions or privilege of employment on the basis of the individual’s prior civil or criminal offenses is prohibited.
The proposal also prohibits limiting or segregating individuals from opportunities or deprive them of employment opportunities or their status as employees on the basis of being a former offender, discrimination against individuals for having participated in investigations, hearings or other similar legal processes, and coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any individual in the exercise of any rights granted by the ordinance.
However, the ordinance would also provide the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO)-run psychological tests for former inmates to ensure safety.
Violation of the stipulation of the ordinance will be subject to increasing penalties as more offenses are racked up, with an increasing fine of P2,500 for first offense, P3,500 on second offense, and P5,000 on third offense, with each fine either replaceable by or accompanied with a one to 30-day imprisonment stint.