The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill prohibiting and declaring child marriage as illegal.
Senate Bill No. 1373 gained 21 affirmative votes, no negative vote and no abstention. Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality thanked her colleagues for helping pass the “Girls not Brides” bill.
“Today, we give our girls a chance to dream, a chance to define their future according to their own terms. We defend their right to declare when they are ready to begin their families,” Hontiveros manifested during the Senate’s session.
“We tell them their health matters to us, their education matters to us. We give them a fighting shot,” she stressed.
The senator said the bill primarily considers the act of child marriage a public crime, and penalizes any person who facilitates and solemnizes a union between a minor and an adult.
“Being conscious of existing cultural practices, the bill introduces a culturally appropriate program and services that will be responsive to the needs of those who will be affected by this law,” she said.
Under the bill, any person who causes, fixates, facilitates or arranges a child marriage shall be fined P40,000 or suffer the penalty of prison in its minimum period.
Should the perpetrator be an ascendant, step-parent or guardian of the minor, the penalty imposed shall be prison in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000 and the loss of parental authority over the minor.
Also under the measure, any person who performs or officiates the formal rites of child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prison in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000 in addition to perpetual disqualification from office if he or she is a public officer.
Other senators who also authored the bill are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Leila de Lima, Joel Villanueva, Imelda “Imee” Marcos, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
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Number of Women and Girls At Risk: 25,000
Status: Existing Legislation Needs Strengthening
Improve by adding: Prosecuting parents/guardian, felony offense