New legal restrictions will make marrying a Filipina much more difficult

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A new Senate bill would seek to add more requirements to marrying a Filipina in the country, including a ‘certificate of good behaviour’.

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House Bill #4828 states that any foreigner wanting to marry within the Philippines will have to supply the following:

  • Certificates of good moral character
  • Proof of gainful trade, business, employment and/or other lawful sources of income

Currently the so called “Family Code” of the Philippines requires a foreigner to show proof of legal capacity –  a paper issued by their embassy or consular office.

Under the bill, jobless foreigners and those convicted of crimes would technically not be able to marry.

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Many officials are against the law as it only focuses on male foreigners.

“We believe the additional requirements…would propagate old gender stereotypes and is thus highly discriminatory and contrary to the equal protection clause of the Constitution,” said Nolibelyn Macabagdal, a project officer at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, during a committee hearing on the bill on Monday.

The Philippine Commission on Women also does not agree with the bill.

“We feel that it runs contrary to the provision of the Magna Carta which grants equal rights for women and men to enter into marriage,” said the PCW’s Rebecca Baylosis.

In 2014 the Philippine House of Representatives approved its version of the bill – proponents said it would protect Filipino women against exploitation by foreigners and keep them from being trafficked or prostituted, among other illicit things.

Senator Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the committee on youth, women, and family relations, is also not keen on approving the Senate bill in its current form.

Aside from having gender equality issues, she said the bill discriminates against foreigners.

“There’s a human right question that we have to resolve,” Mr Cayetano told reporters after Monday’s hearing.

“The intention is very good. It’s just that, how do you do it in such a way that it’s fair?”

Mr Cayetano has called for the convening of a technical working group to refine the bill about marrying.

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