Amendments to the Family Code

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH
Amendments to the Family Code

BY PIA S. CAYETANO
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality
June 3, 2014

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues,

Our country has proudly accepted recognition as one of the most gender equal nations in the world. The Philippines is the best performer in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to equality between genders, [1] and we have been identified as a global leader in gender equality, outranking even the United States and the United Kingdom. [2]

However, despite the landmark legislation we have passed and been recognized for, there remain vestiges of gender insensitivity and discrimination against women in our laws.

As such, I rise before you today to sponsor a measure seeking to amend provisions that are unjustly biased against women, and eliminate the inequality between genders as codified in our current law.

Committee Report No. 41 introduces amendments to Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines. The Family Code, as amended, contains several provisions that hold the decision of the husband or father, supreme over that of the wife or mother.

As a background, Executive Order No. 209 was a Presidential Proclamation made in 1987, almost thirty years ago. And although it introduced many subsequent changes, gender-biased provisions which are remnants of the Civil Code passed in 1950, still remain. To wit:

Article 14, which deals with the requirement of parental consent for marriage of a child aged between eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21) years old, accords primacy to the consent of the father over that of the mother.

Articles 96 and 124, which deal with the administration of community property and conjugal partnership, respectively, state that although administration and enjoyment belong to both spouses jointly, the husband’s decision shall prevail in case of disagreement. The wife’s only recourse is to bring such matter before the courts.

Article 211 states that the father and mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over their common children, but the father’s decision shall prevail in case of disagreement. The rearing of children is a joint and collaborative effort between the father and mother. There is no rational explanation for according more weight to the decision of the father in the exercise of parental authority.

Finally, Article 225, which states that the father and mother shall jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of their unemancipated common child, once again holds the father’s decision supreme in case of disagreement.

Thus, the proposed measure seeks to amend the preceding provisions to give equal weight to the decision of the husband or father, and the wife or mother. This way, we eliminate the undue prejudice against women, and the law can now accord the same weight to the decision of either spouse or parent, in important matters concerning their marriage and family. I earnestly ask for your support in the swift passage of this bill.

Thank you.

[1] http://business.inquirer.net/149083/ph-best-performer-in-asia-pacific-in-gender-equality-wef
[2] http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/10/25/13/philippines-better-us-uk-gender-equality

Related links: Committee Report No.41

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