Recently, headlines were set ablaze with the news of a big drug bust in an upscale hotel by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Details of the bust have intrigued netizens given the details: They were 11 men, involving a doctor, two models, and an engineer and they were allegedly engaged in an orgy session. Initial reports also identified how one of them was HIV-positive.
This hit a nerve particularly with the LGBT community and Pia Wurtzbach. The Miss Universe 2015 has long been an advocate for HIV-AIDS awareness and anti-discrimination. A few netizens then prodded her to make a statement. And she did.
Universe, listen to this. A few days ago a drug bust happened in a high scale hotel in Manila Philippines involving 11 supposedly gay men. Two of them were suspected of selling/distributing drugs. During the operation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found out that one of of them was HIV positive. PDEA and local news outlets decided to expose the identities of these men to the media. Their mugshots, names, and the HIV status of one of them were released. Was this really necessary? I understand that what the men were supposedly doing was illegal and they should face legal consequences. But there was absolutely no need to expose and publicly shame them. It’s illegal to publicly announce one’s HIV status (RA8504). What has been done has not only traumatized the men that were involved; it has also worsened the HIV situation in the Philippines. We’re working so hard in educating the people properly on HIV/AIDS, on taking away the stigma. Because of what PDEA and the news outlet have done, some people are now associating drugs and immorality with being gay. It’s ridiculous. The whole point of this drug raid was to arrest the men for their supposed crime, which was selling/distributing and using illegal narcotics. Being gay is not a crime! Living with HIV is not a punishment! Come on, Philippines. We are already taking small steps forward to improve acceptance, tolerance and understanding. We cannot take big steps back. To PDEA and the news outlets, take steps to mend the situation. Sa aking mga kababayan, wag po tayo maging judgmental. Hindi immoral ang maging bakla, hindi dapat ituring na kaparusahan ang HIV. At lalong hindi ito biro na dapat pag-pyestahan at pagtawanan. To my beloved LGBT community, stay strong. We’ll win this.
Pia went directly addressing every point in the issue with how drug bust reports were said to confuse homosexuality with HIV-AIDS and substance abuse. It was deemed unfair and very damaging to a community that has long been fighting against discrimination.
Under the Republic Act 8504 or The Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. Under section 2 of the said act, the following is stated:
(b) The State shall extend to every person suspected or known to be infected with HIV/AIDS full protection of his/her human rights and civil liberties. Towards this end:
(1) compulsory HIV testing shall be considered unlawful unless otherwise provided in this Act;
(2) the right to privacy of individuals with HIV shall be guaranteed;
(3) discrimination, in all its forms and subtleties, against individuals with HIV or persons perceived or suspected of having HIV shall be considered inimical to individual and national interest; and
(4) provision of basic health and social services for individuals with HIV shall be assured.
As of presstime, Pia’s post has received 89,000 likes and over 4,000 on Instagram. Members of the LGBT along with various netizens have expressed their support and gratefulness over Pia’s message.
— ChrisPi (@im_chris_19) November 29, 2017
I FREAKIN LOVE @PiaWurtzbach ‘s IG POST ABOUT DRUG RAID/HIV BECAUSE HIV IS REALLY A MAJOR PROBLEM NOT ONLY IN THIS COUNTRY BUT TO ENTIRE WORLD
— josh despabiladeras (@sogoodjosh) November 29, 2017
Being HIV+ is not a crime. You know what’s a crime? Revealing people’s HIV status. It is NEVER okay to shame people for having it.
Come on people, it’s 2017. #destroythestigma
— Weanne Myrrh Estrada (@WeanneMyrrh) November 29, 2017
@pura_belarmino read and I quote “being gay is not a crime, living with hiv is not a punishment’.
— JSap (@JSaptweets) November 29, 2017
“She’s an icon and I love how @PiaWurtzbach defended lgbt and hiv/aids carriers”
WHY CANT SOME PEOPLE AND OTHER MEMBERS OF LGBT APPRECIATE THAT AND STOP BASHING HER ABOUT NOT SAYING A THING ON DUTERTE’S WAR ON DRUGS?
— Mike not-the-Enriquez (@mikelumence) November 29, 2017
Photo courtesy of Pia Wurtzbach’s Instagram account
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