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Senate bill seeks tougher rules on foreigners marrying Pinays

MANILA – Should the Philippine government impose more requirements on foreigners who want to marry Filipino women?

The Family Code currently requires foreigners who want to marry Filipinos to show proof of legal capacity to contract marriage issued by their diplomatic or consular officials.

House Bill 4828, which a Senate committee is now deliberating on, seeks to add more requirements: certificates of good moral character, and proof of gainful trade, business, employment and other lawful sources of income.

This means jobless foreigners, and those convicted of crimes, would not be able to marry Filipinos if the bill becomes law.

However, because the bill focuses on male foreigners, certain government offices are not in favor of it.

“We believe the additional requirements…would propagate old gender stereotypes and is thus highly discriminatory and contrary to the equal protection clause of the Constitution,” said Nolibelyn Macabagdal, a project officer at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, during a committee hearing on the bill on Monday.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) also does not agree with the bill.

“We feel that it runs contrary to the provision of the Magna Carta which grants equal rights for women and men to enter into marriage,” said the PCW’s Rebecca Baylosis.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill in 2014, with proponents saying it would protect Filipino women against exploitation by foreigners and being trafficked and prostituted, among others.

Senator Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the committee on youth, women, and family relations, is also not keen on approving the Senate bill in its current form.

Aside from having gender equality issues, she said the bill discriminates against foreigners.

“There’s a human right question that we have to resolve,” Cayetano told reporters after Monday’s hearing.

“The intention is very good. It’s just that, how do you do it in such a way that it’s fair?”

Cayetano has called for the convening of a technical working group to refine the bill.


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