PCW welcomes law decriminalizing premature marriage
The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) welcomes the approval of the law abolishing the Revised Penal Code provision that makes it illegal for a woman to marry within certain conditions after the death of her husband or annulment of marriage.
On March 13, 2015, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Republic Act No. 10655, An Act Repealing the Crime of Premature Marriage under Article 351 of Act No. 3815 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Under the RPC which was enacted in 1930, a woman who shall marry within 301 days from the date of the death of her husband, or before child delivery if she is pregnant at the time of his death shall be punished by imprisonment ranging from one month and one day to six months and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos. The same criminal prohibitions apply in case of annulment or dissolution of her previous marriage. There is no such criminal prohibition for husbands.
PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa noted that the reason for having the said provision in the penal code which is to prevent doubtful paternity of a child is already addressed under the 1987 Family Code of the Philippines (FCP). Article 168 of the FCP provides for the rule to determine paternity and filiation of a child born by a woman who contracted another marriage within 300 days from the termination of the previous marriage. Articles 170 and 171 provide remedies by which the legitimacy of a child born under such circumstances may be questioned, while Articles 103 and 130 address concerns about property relations. Moreover, advances in science and technology like DNA testing to determine paternity is now available.
“We welcome this development! The old law curtails a woman’s right to marry and bars her enjoyment of equal rights with men on matters relating to marriage and family relations. As signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Philippine government is obliged to review laws and repeal provisions that continue to discriminate against women,” Executive Director Verzosa said.
She added that this is a step further in implementing the Magna Carta of Women. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) list some of the old laws that need to be revised or repealed such as other provisions of the RPC on adultery and concubinage, prostitution, and death under exceptional circumstances. The list, which is part of the PCW’s priority legislative agenda, also includes amendments to the Family Code provisions that say husband’s or father’s decision must prevail on matters regarding administration and enjoyment of properties and exercise of parental authority, among others.
Bills addressing the said provisions are now pending in Congress.