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Lawmakers: Filipino dress code discriminates against poor

They say government agencies' demands for proper attire

By Ed Adamczyk
Lawmakers: Filipino dress code discriminates against poor
Lawmakers in the Philippines have introduced a bill to relax law requiring a strict dress code of citizens conducting business at government buildings. File photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

MANILA, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Four Philippine lawmakers seek to change a dress code at government meetings they say discriminates against the poor.

House Bill 6268, The Open Door Policy Act, would allow anyone visiting government buildings or attending meetings to dress without regard to the current requirement of "proper attire," which one sponsor, Teddy Baguilat, called discriminatory against marginalized members of society.

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"They are Filipinos who often belong to marginalized sectors of society -- farmers, fisher folk, urban poor and indigenous peoples -- they are Filipinos who should be given due priority by government," he commented, noting there are citizens who cannot afford the clothes demanded by the stringent requirements usually stipulated by government agencies.

The dress code requires collared shirts, pants and shoes are generally required to obtain service.

Baguilat joined representatives Leni Robredo, Jorge Banal and Kaka Bag-ao in presenting the bill.

"In public offices, professionalism isn't in what citizens wear when they avail of services that they should rightfully enjoy. It's in how government officers and employees treat the people whom we serve," Bag-ao said. "Clearly, this is a form of discrimination that must end. The Open Door Policy Act challenges government agencies to continue to enforce security measures that are crafted and implemented with sensitivity to marginalized Filipinos."

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