02 February 2015

Sponsorship Speech for Amendments to the Family Code (Equality of Spouses)

Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao delivered this sponsorship speech during the 27 January 2015 hearing of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality for the initial consideration of House Bill No. 4613 (An Act ensuring the fundamental equality of men and women, amending for the purpose Articles 14, 96, 124, 211 and 255 of Executive Order 209 otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines), which she authored with Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad.

Madam Chair, members of the committee, good afternoon.

The Family Code  or Executive Order No. 209 was enacted where it set forth the rights, duties, and obligations that will govern among family members, particularly between husband and wife. However, certain provisions in the said law do not reflect the spirit of equality between men and women, a right that is enshrined in our Constitution.

Accordingly, House Bill No. 4613, co-authored by this representation with Deputy Speaker Dina Abad, seeks to remove the hierarchy or preference of rights afforded to husband and discrimination against women when it comes to decision-making affecting family matters. More particularly, the following are the proposed amendments:

- Under Article 14 of the Family Code, both the father OR the mother may give his or her consent to the marriage of their children between the ages of 18 to 21;

- Under Article 96 and 124 of the Family Code, the provisions relating to the preference of the husband’s decision in case of disagreement are deleted, and instead, the exercise of acts of administration by either spouse without the consent of the other shall be without effect until the same is subsequently approved by the other spouse;

- Under Articles 211 and 225 of the Family Code, the provisions relating to the preference of the father’s decision in case of disagreement over the property of common children are deleted, and instead, either spouse may elevate the matter before the courts taking into consideration the best interest of the children.

In order to be consonant with the provisions of the Constitution and pursuant to the Magna Carta of Women as well as our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the aforementioned provisions in the Family Code are sought to be amended to impress the need for recognition of the link between women’s rights and human rights.  These proposed provisions are in response to the demand to have a paradigm shift in the family relations between a husband and wife and, more importantly, to empower women towards meaningful and greater participation in decisions involving themselves within their respective families.

Panahon na upang gawing tuluyang mas napapanahon ang ating mga batas, lalo na pag dating sa usapin ng pagkakapantay-pantay, at pwede po tayong magpatuloy sa pamamagitan ng pagpasa ng panukalang ito. 

In our duty as legislators, we must be reminded that the most progressive actions that we can take do not necessarily come in the form of crafting entirely new laws. At times, it can be found in making seemingly minor changes in old ones in order to catalyze a major difference in the continuing fight for equality in this country.

Thank you po at magandang hapon.

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