For years, throughout all my years in the Philippines, I’ve heard expats and foreigners telling me the stories of having extra marital affairs… and the repercussions of doing so.
Some openly admit they are having a relationship with a married woman, but for some reason they believe they are covered under a unique law in the Philippines – The Concubine Law.
The Concubine law is a law that simply says this, verbatim: Article #334 Under the Revised Penal Code – Concubinage — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prison correctional in its minimum and medium periods.
In other words, yes you can go jail for having a relationship outside your marriage. Does this happen often? No, but like many other aspects of life in the Philippines, that particular “no” has a lot to do with the fact that the percentages are based on Filipino aspects, not foreigner aspects.
Simply said, if you want to be made an example, then by all means give it a try.
For those that keep in the safe zone, we all teeter on ‘reality’ in the Philippines… even those that adamantly insist that they love their wife, they don’t need to cheat, life is perfect and the normal blah blah blah.
No matter the case, it’s not unusual to hear of Filipinos paying a fine for having an extra-marital relationship.
The sorry part of the law involving concubines is that the amount of information to prosecute it is greatly reduced; therefore many people are fined on the pure basis that they simply admit it.
The crime of concubinage is considered a “private crime” which can only be prosecuted by the offended spouse.
However, the offended party cannot file a complaint for concubinage without including both parties involved, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if she shall have consented or pardoned the offenders (Article 344, RPC).
In essence the one committing the concubine infraction shall suffer the penalty of “deserter.”
That charge alone is seen as a serious crime in itself, because deserting your family under the Philippines Family Act is also a crime, a double bladed sword if you like.
To successfully prosecute a cheating spouse, one must first file a complaint against the alleged offender, and the other person involved.
The complaint must be filed in the Office of the Prosecutor in the place where the offence took place, or is taking place; for example: you live in Cebu, but your spouse is cheating in Manila, you must file the complaint in Manila.
To successfully prosecute the crime of concubinage, you first need to prove several elements:
1) You and your spouse are in fact married
2) That your spouse committed the following acts:
A) They kept a second partner in the conjugal dwelling
B) Your spouse in fact had, or is having sexual intercourse under “scandalous circumstances” with a third party
C) Your spouse is cohabitating with another in a place not your home
3) (Here is the Tricky One) The offender [usually the mistress], must know that your spouse is married. For those that argue that this is untrue, you can check this particular part of the penal code here – Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code (Book Two), page 848.
For those who hear that Filipinos do not file charges against one another, or other people because they do not have the money to file, you can throw that thought out the window. The Philippines offers public attorney’s to give free legal assistance to qualified indigent clients on the basis of filing criminal complaints before the Office of the Prosecutor. One can obtain this service by visiting the Public Attorney’s Office, also known as the PAO.
Keep in mind that the PAO office is normally located in any municipality in the hall of justice, provincial hall, municipal hall or any other building in or on the grounds of the places mentioned here.
To add a bit of other information outside of Concubine laws, that same type of lawyer is available to any Filipino wishing to file charges against a foreigner who has a child here and deserts them as well. That of course is remedied by giving an agreed upon amount of support for the child. Sorry to say that amount is often contested, bringing about unresolved issues that span farther than anything I’ve written here.