Press Release
February 9, 2011

Senate approves amendments to Family Code

The Senate has approved on second reading Tuesday two amendments to the Family Code of the Philippines.

First to be approved was Senate Bill No. 480, amending Article III of the Family Code which states that a "spouse of age" has the right to dispose exclusive properties without the consent of the other spouse. SBN 480 instead recommended for the term "spouse of age" to be replaced by the term "either spouse."

According to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, the term "spouse of age" is superfluous, since a spouse must "necessarily be of age to enter into a contract of marriage."

In the Philippines, a person may legally enter into a marriage contract once he or she reaches eighteen (18) years of age.

Senate Bill No. 1052 on the other hand, replaces Article 26 of the Family Code, which states that "where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have the capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

According to the bill's author, Sen. Manny Villar, the provisions in Article 26 of the Family Code are "discriminatory to Filipino citizens."

"The need for the foreigner's capacity to re-marry is not essential as it imposes an unnecessary restriction on the Filipino citizen," Villar explained further. "Reasonable interpretation of the law should be that, a Filipino citizen who is divorced should be allowed to remarry."

In her sponsorship speech, Santiago said that "there is a need to amend the law because before, in cases of divorce between a foreign spouse and a Filipino national, divorce was recognized only on the part of the foreigner but not on the part of the Filipino who remained married to the foreigner."

Equality and justice dictate that a Filipino who is divorced from a foreign national should be considered divorced and eligible to remarry regardless of whether the foreign spouse has been remarried or not, Santiago stressed.

Senate Bill Nos. 480 and 1052 were approved on second reading after Senators Pia Cayetano, chair of the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations and Santiago, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, called for the bills' immediate approval.

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