Congress ratifies bicam report on bill prohibiting child marriage

A BILL that would prohibit child marriage in the Philippines is set to be sent to Malacanang for the President’s signature after both chambers of Congress have ratified its bicameral conference report Monday evening.

“We have reached another milestone in the fight against child marriage as the bill, which we have long championed and fought for many years, is now a step closer to becoming a law,” said BH Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, author of the House version.

Under the measure, people who arrange a child marriage will be jailed for up to 10 years, be fined at least P40,000, and lose parental authority if the person is an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, or guardian of the child.

Those who officiate a child marriage will also be jailed for 10 years, pay a fine of at least P50,000, and be disqualified from public office if the person works in government.

Those caught cohabiting with a child out of wedlock will also be jailed for 10 years, be fined at least P50,000, and will be disqualified from appointive or elective office.

Meanwhile, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2332 on Monday that would increase the age of sexual consent to 16 years old from the current 12.

The House approved its counterpart bill on Dec. 1, 2020.

“We hope that the bicameral version will be more expansive, to include penalties for grooming and the element of lack of consent in the grounds for rape,” Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said. — Russell Louis C. Ku