Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Discriminatory Amendment Proposed by Bohol Representative

Rep. Relampagos
Proposed House Bill 4269 (An Act Amending Article 26 of EO 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines), was filed in Philippine Congress in February of 2011 by Bohol representative Rene Relampagos.  It was submitted to the Committee on Revision of Laws in March, which held a meeting on it the 1st of June, and it is pending further action with the Committee.

HB 4269 is a nasty little piece of legislation with discrimination at its core, all the while being wrapped in the guise of "protecting the Filipino family."  Rep. Rene Relampagos of the Liberal Party (liberal?  huh?), said that "New values, ideas, and paradigms have made their way in the lives of the Filipino people and also in our laws and jurisprudence since the enactment of the Family Code of 1987, particularly, among others, on issues about marriage."  Because of this, Relampagos wants to see Article 26 of the Family Code tightened and tweaked to suit his personal beliefs.

Article 26 states:  “All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in the country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5), (6), and 36, 37 and 38.”  This sends a chill down Relampagos' spine because Filipino LGBT couples who get married in countries that have marriage equality might find a legal loophole to have their marriages recognized by the Philippine government.  God forbid!  We can't have tax-paying Filipino citizens being treated fairly.  That would be awful!

Relampagos' amendment bill would add to and expand the exceptions to the provision, which would be held as "prohibited marriages."  These exceptions would include common-law marriages obtained by Filipinos overseas; same-sex marriages (including partnerships/civil unions) obtained by Filipinos overseas; marriage by way of jest (i.e. no genuine consent, flippant, or done for immigration purposes); and marriage by proxy.  Isn't that sweet?  The representative lumps committed, married same-sex couples together with marriages of jest.  How honorable of him.

Believe it or not, Relampagos is, ironically and sadly enough, the current Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights.  That committee's core initiative is "the protection and enhancement of human rights."  Interesting.  Perhaps Relampagos would prefer that initiative to be "the protection and enhancement of heterosexual human rights."

The bill states that Philippine public policy expressly recognizes only marriages celebrated between a man and a woman with legal capacity to marry, and thus a same-sex marriage between Filipinos contracted in a country that has marriage equality cannot be deemed valid in the Philippines.  Aside from the provisions in the Family Code, the bill also cites Article 15 of the Civil Code in its prefatory section, which provides that “laws relating to family rights and duties, or to status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.”  Article 17 is also thrown in the mix, which states that “prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.”

That's a lot of legal jargon which basically means, because these provisions also remain as pronounced in Philippine jurisprudence, that a Filipino has legal capacity to marry only a person of the opposite sex and that this limitation will follow the Filipino anywhere in the world.

In other words, if this bill makes it out of committee, passes the House and the Senate and becomes law, a Filipino wishing to marry either another Filipino of the same sex abroad or a foreigner of the same sex abroad, will be expressly denied the capacity to do so if he or she is still a citizen of the Philippines.  Honestly I don't know how the Philippine government could enforce such a provision, especially in countries which have marriage equality and refuse to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to marry.

Marriage laws vary by country, however, and a few do require a Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage (LCCM) form from the embassy of the citizenship of the person/s wishing to marry in that country.  That certificate, as issued by Philippine embassies, specifically requires a Filipino to list the name of the person they seek to marry, and only allows for a man and a woman.  Relampagos' amendment wouldn't alter this process because Philippine embassies already cannot issue an LCCM if both parties are the same sex.

But, as I said, most countries that have marriage equality do not actually require an LCCM from a Philippine embassy in the first place, which brings me back to wondering exactly how the Philippine government would be able to enforce such a ridiculous law in foreign jurisdictions.  For a developing country with a plate full of very big problems to deal with (think poverty, natural disasters, corruption, overpopulation, crime, health care, pollution), this bill is a waste of time, energy, and resources to say the least.

Filipinos, let your voice be heard on this pending bill!  Let the Committee know that HB 4269 is discriminatory against LGBT Filipinos, goes against Filipino values of respect and dignity, and should not be considered for delivery to Congress.

You can email the Committee on Revision of Laws c/o its Chairperson, Hon. Marlyn Permicias-Agabas, by clicking here.  You can also call them at 02-931-5001 (local 7160), or 02-932-0217.  The 25 members of the Committee are listed here, so please check if one of them represents your district and send them a message as well.

Per Bohol Sunday Post


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

It looks to me like this guy would do better proposing a bill to promote weight loss... Ehem.

Ricky said... Best Blogger Tips

Mr. Erik do you know where is it that Filipino couples could marry? If New Zealand is an option, for my partner and me? Thanks!

PS I emailed the committee :)

Erik said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Ricky, glad you let your voice be heard to the Committee!

In regards to New Zealand, unfortunately, that would be a problem. NZ's civil union law requires at least one of the persons in the relationship to be a legal resident of NZ, so if at least one of you does not have a valid residency permit (e.g. a student visa or worker's visa) it would not be possible.

All of the countries that have partnership laws, as well as many of the countries that have marriage equality, require one of the persons in the couple to have been a legal resident in that country for at least 3 consecutive months. This is a universal stipulation for all couples, whether they're opposite-sex or same-sex. The countries that do not have residency requirements are Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, as well as the U.S. states of Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C. In those places it is possible for two foreign citizens to get married while on holiday, for example, subject to approval of submitted documents (i.e. proof of single status, character witness forms, etc.).

For that to happen, though, you'd both first have to be granted visitor visas which carry their own set of requirements such as proof of stable employment in the Philippines and plenty of money in the bank to support yourselves on your trip.

Be advised too that when you return to the Philippines your marriage will not be recognized by the Philippine govt., and you will be both be considered single and nothing more than strangers even though you've been legally married abroad. But wear your wedding rings with pride anyway, because if you're married you're married, no matter what they say. They cannot take that fact away from you! Best of luck to you both!

Post a Comment

Please be decent and respectful, and please post all comments in English so that everyone can understand. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...