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House leader urges Malacanang to sign child marriage bill into law


A HOUSE of Representatives leader has called on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to sign a bill that would prohibit child marriage in the Philippines.

House Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy, author and sponsor of the measure in the lower chamber, said that enacting the measure into law could be one of Mr. Duterte’s most important legacies.

“President Duterte could be instrumental in ending child marriage in the country by signing into law the proposed Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage, consistent with his administration’s resolve to effect meaningful change for Filipinos,” she said in a statement.

Under the measure, people who arrange a child marriage face penalties of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of at least P40,000. They also lose parental authority if the person is an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, or guardian of the child.

Those who officiate a child marriage face the same jail time, 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.

The measure was ratified by Congress on Sept. 27.

Ms. Herrera-Dy said the enactment of the legislation into law is “urgently needed” as the Philippines ranked 12th worldwide in terms of absolute numbers of child marriage, citing a 2017 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). — Russell Louis C. Ku

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