Another harmful proposal

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison () - October 24, 2011 - 12:00am

For so many years now, some sectors, especially women and the leftist groups have been agitating for changes in our laws which they consider outmoded and not in keeping with the times. Certain age old Filipino customs and traditions embodied in these laws have been assailed because they are not allegedly in step with realities and modern technological trends. These sectors claim it is about time that these customs and traditions should be discarded to help improve contemporary conditions particularly the problem of poverty. Thus they have been pushing for the passage of an RH bill for several years now. As already shown, this bill promotes contraceptive lifestyle that degrades marriage. In fact, even before the RH Bill is passed these sectors are also proposing already a bill to legalize divorce in this country.

The present Constitution however has set forth policies on marriage and family which would be disregarded if this divorce law is passed. Indeed it can be said that no other country has given so much public policy importance to marriage than the Philippines. In the declaration of the state policies (Article II, Section 12), our Constitution unequivocally considers the family as a “basic social institution” which simply means the family is not a creation of the State and is even ahead of the State in existence. Thus in Sections 1 and 2, Article XV, the Constitution declares that, “the State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation,” and that “marriage” as an inviolable social institution is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.

These State Policies on Marriage and Family can be graphically illustrated by likening our country to one big edifice. An edifice supported by many pillars built on footings or foundations embedded on the ground. The strength and durability of this building depends on the stability of the pillars that prop it up. And the pillars are only as stable as their footings are firm and sturdy. The pillars are the Filipino Families in every home throughout the land; and the footings on which these pillars stand are the countless Filipino husbands and wives united in a bond commonly and legally known as matrimony.

Hence the State saw the need of promulgating a set of laws governing marriage and family relations which is presently found in the New Civil Code (CC) and which was superseded later on (by August 4, 1988) by a separate set of laws known as the Family Code (FC).

Both the NCC and the FC reiterate the constitutional declaration that the family is a “basic social institution” and the “foundation of the nation” so they both provide that “no custom, practice or agreement which is destructive of the family shall be recognized and given effect” (Art. 218, NCC; Art. 149, FC).

On the other hand, the State considers marriage as a special contract of permanent union between man and woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. The NCC specifically states that “in case of doubt, all presumptions favor the solidarity of the family. Thus, every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds, the legitimacy of children, the community of property during marriage, the authority of parents over their children, and the validity of defense for any member of the family in case of unlawful aggression” (Art. 220).

Based on this policy, certain provisions are now found in the Family Code apparently strengthening marriage. These are:

Article I where the Family Code authoritatively defines marriage as a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman and entered into for the establishment of conjugal and family life.

Article 5 raising the age requirement for both male and female to 18 years upwards before they can legally marry thus minimizing the possibilities of marriage between two immature people who may lack due discretion.

Article 16 requiring parties to undergo marriage counseling and to submit the certificate of counseling together with the application for marriage license aside from the consent or advice of the parents.

Article 40 providing that even if a previous marriage is absolutely void from the beginning, a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void is still necessary before a spouse of that previous marriage can remarry.

Article 42 providing that: a) an action for legal separation shall not be tried before six months shall have elapsed since the filing of the suit, to enable the parties to cool off; b) the decree of legal separation shall not be granted unless the court has taken steps towards reconciliation and is fully satisfied that reconciliation is highly improbable; and c) no decree of legal separation shall be granted by agreement of the spouses or by the express admission of one spouse.

Article 75 providing that in the absence of any agreement between them the spouses shall have an absolute community of property instead of the present relative community or conjugal partnership only.

Article 151 providing that no suit or court action shall be filed or maintained by members of the same family unless earnest efforts towards a compromise have been made but that the same have failed. Family here includes husband and wife; between parents and children, among ascendants and descendants and among brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood. (Art. 150, FC).

Obviously the divorce bill runs counter to all these State policies and legal framework on family and marriage. It is not for the common good and should therefore be junked outright.

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