Amendments to the Revised Penal Code
BY PIA S. CAYETANO
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality
June 3, 2014
Mr. President, I rise again today to sponsor another measure seeking to eliminate discrimination against women in our current law.
Committee Report No. 42 seeks to amend Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, which is a modified version of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870. This law was enacted in 1932, or a full eighty-two (82) years ago. Thus, there is certainly a need to revisit some provisions that have become outdated through the decades.
One such provision is Article 351, which punishes women who contract premature marriages. The crime of premature marriages punishes “any widow who shall marry within three hundred and one days 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.” Likewise, a woman whose marriage shall have been annulled or dissolved, shall be penalized, if she shall marry before her delivery or before the expiration of three hundred and one days after the legal separation.
This is an antiquated provision that perpetuates discrimination against women in our laws. Article 351 effectively enforces a mourning period for women, while no such law applies to men. More importantly, it restricts the right of a woman to marry by making such act a crime punishable by law.  Thus, Committee Report No.42 seeks to expressly repeal Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code, thereby “removing a barrier to women’s equal right to marriage,”  and doing away with a part of our law that discriminates against women.
As enshrined in our Constitution, “The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.” I humbly ask for the support of my colleagues in getting our laws up to speed, and earnestly seek the swift passage of this measure.
Related Links: Committee Report No.42