MANILA — Party-list Gabriela lawmakers are proposing the deletion from the country’s penal statutes the crime of “premature marriage.”
“The Magna Carta of women provides that government should take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women, especially on marriage and family relations,” Rep. Emmi A. De Jesus and Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan said.
De Jesus and Ilagan are authors of HB 5116 entitled “An Act repealing the crime of premature marriages under Article 351 of Republic Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code.”
Proposed to be repealed is Article 351, Title Twelve, Chapter One of Act 3815, as amended, which provides: “Premature Marriages – Any widow who shall marry within three hundred and one day from the date of the death of her husband, or before having delivered if she shall have been pregnant at the time of his death, shall be punished by arresto mayor (one month and one day to six months) and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos. The same penalties shall be imposed upon any woman whose marriage shall have been annulled or dissolved, if she shall marry before her delivery or before the expiration of the period of three hundred and one day after the legal separation.”
However, the authors lamented that the provisions of the Revised Penal Code do not penalize the man she marries prematurely.
“Moreover, no similar prohibition is imposed on the widower or the man who ‘prematurely’ marries another after the death of his wife,” the Gabriela lawmakers pointed out.
The purpose of the prohibition is said to be the avoidance of confusion as regards paternity and filiation of a child who may have been conceived during the previous marriage but born during the subsequent marriage, they also noted.
“But as it is, Article 351 already unduly restricts a woman’s right to marry, and the fact that it also covers women who are beyond childbearing years demonstrates the incongruity of the prohibition vis-à-vis its aforementioned purpose or intent,” the authors added.
Besides, De Jesus and Ilagan pointed out, a full title of the Family Code of the Philippines is already devoted to Paternity and Filiation (Title VI of the Family Code of the Philippines) and a chapter within the said title tackles Proof of Filiation.
Thus, the authors insist, sufficient framework exists to address the issue of paternity and filiation, not to mention that in today’s age of advanced technology, paternity and filiation can be easily determined, making the prohibition all the more outdated, irrelevant and unnecessary.
“Not only is Art. 351 outdated that needed to be erased from our statutes but because it perpetuates discrimination against those women subjected to the prohibition by unduly curtailing their right to marry when no other legal barrier exists other than the declared prohibition,” the authors said.