Press Release
September 1, 2015

Equality of men and women pushed with amendments to the Family Code

The Senate passed on third and final reading today a measure amending the Family Code of the Philippines to give "equal weight" to the husband and wife in making decisions concerning their marriage and family.

Senate Bill No. 2270 seeks to amend several provisions to the 28-year old Family Code (Executive Order No. 209) which are "unjustly biased against women" for holding "the decision of the husband or father supreme over that of the wife or mother," according to Senator Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and sponsor of the bill.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that SBN 2270 was one of the ongoing reforms towards greater gender equality in the country's laws being pushed in Congress "to make sure that the State, through our governing laws, are truly reflective of the principle of fundamental equality as enshrined in our Constitution."

Cayetano explained that SBN 2270 will amend Article 14 of the Family Code which gives more weight to the father's consent over the consent of the mother for the marriage of a child aged between 18 and 21 years old. With the measure in place, Cayetano said, either parent or guardian can give their consent.

The measure also seeks to amend Articles 96 and 124 of the Family Code which deal with decisions covering community property and conjugal partnership, respectively, Cayetano added.

"Under the current law, the husband's decision shall prevail in case of disagreement, even if the administration and enjoyment of their common property belong to both spouses jointly. The wife's only recourse is to bring such matter before the courts," she said.

Another provision to be amended, Cayetano said, was Article 211 of the Family Code which states that even if both the father and mother exercised parental authority over their common children, the father's decision would prevail in case of disagreement.

"The rearing of their children is a joint effort between the father and mother. There is no rational explanation why the father's decision should be given more weight in the exercise of parental authority," she stressed.

"Once this bill is passed into law, the inequalities under Articles 96, 124 and 211 will be eliminated by placing the decision of the husband or father on equal footing as that of the wife or mother," Cayetano said.

Lastly, she added the proposed law would also amend Article 225 of Executive Order No. 209 to allow the mother and father to enter into a compromise agreement in case of a dispute on the legal guardianship over the property of their unemancipated common child.

"This bill is part of our continuing efforts to amend laws that are discriminatory to women. Despite the landmark legislation we have passed, there remain vestiges of gender insensitivity and discrimination against women in our laws," Cayetano said.

Aside from Cayetano, Senate Bill No. 2270 was also authored by Senators Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. (Apple Buenaventura)

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