House ratifies child marriage ban bill

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has ratified the final version of the measure seeking to ban child marriages.

In session last Monday, the House plenary approved the bicameral conference committee report reconciling the disagreeing provisions of the versions of the proposed Child Marriage Ban Law passed by the chamber and the Senate.

The chamber’s version, House Bill 9943, seeks to declare child marriage as illegal and impose penalties on violators.

It defines child marriage as the formal union between children under 18 years of age or between an adult and a child. It shall include an informal cohabitation outside of wedlock between an adult and a child or between children below 18.

The bill seeks to impose penalties of imprisonment and a fine of P40,000 on “any person who causes, fixes, facilitates or arranges a child marriage,” and a longer prison term and fine of P50,000 if the person is “ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, step parent or guardian of the child.”

The measure also imposes the penalties of imprisonment and P50,000 fine on “any person who performs or officiates a child marriage,” in addition to perpetual disqualification from office if the person is a public officer.

It proposes the same penalties against “an adult partner who cohabits with a child outside of wedlock.”

While the Family Code and present laws prohibit child marriage, there is no penal provision that gives teeth to the implementation of the ban.

Proponents cited the need to pass the measure following the 2017 United Nations Children’s Fund study, which showed an estimated 15 percent of Filipino girls are married before the age of 18 while two percent are married before the age of 15.                


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