House ratifies bill banning child marriage; bill nears Duterte signature

MANILA – The House of Representatives has ratified the bicameral conference committee report reconciling the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 9943 and Senate Bill 1373, prohibiting the practice of child marriage.

Once both the House and Senate ratify the final version of the bill, it will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.

According to HB 9943’s congressional fact sheet, the bill seeks to eradicate early, forced and arranged marriages to ensure that girls and boys experience healthier, safer and more empowered life transitions while in control of their own destiny.

It also aims to raise public awareness and understanding about the harmful impacts of child marriage and to align national law with the country’s treaty commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Human Rights Council Resolution adopted in 2019.

Among its key provisions, it defines the term “child marriage” as the formal marriage between children under eighteen (18) years of age, and between an adult and a child which is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one or both parties have not expressed full, free, and informed consent. It shall include an informal union or cohabitation outside of wedlock between an adult and a child or between children below eighteen years of age. It declares the (a) facilitation of child marriage; (b) solemnization of child marriage; and (c) cohabitation of an adult with a child outside wedlock unlawful and prohibited acts, the prosecution of which can be initiated by any concerned individual.

It punishes any person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period or a fine of not less than P40,000: Provided, however, That should the perpetrator be an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, step parent, or guardian of the child, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period, a fine of not less than P50,000, and perpetual loss of parental authority. It penalizes any person who performs or officiates a child marriage to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000, in addition to perpetual disqualification from office if the person is a public officer. 

It penalizes an adult partner who cohabits with a child outside wedlock to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000, in addition to perpetual disqualification from appointive or elective office.

It declares child marriage as void ab initio and provides that the action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of a child marriage shall not prescribe in accordance with Articles 35 and 39 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
 

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Read More: House of Representatives  child marriage  HB 9943  

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