Voting 197-0-2, the House of Representatives on Monday approved House Bill 9943 which prohibits the practice of child marriage and imposes penalties for violations thereof.
One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, welcomed the bill’s approval, citing the United Nations World Population Prospect that ranks the Philippines as the 10th country with the highest absolute number of child marriages at 808,000 in 2019.
“The country’s adverse situation is due to the practice of child marriage by Filipino Muslims and indigenous peoples, in addition to co-habitations outside wedlock or illicit live-in unions involving adult men and young girls, which the bill now proscribes”, Lagman said in a statement.
Lagman said child marriage violates the human rights of children under international conventions and domestic laws.
It also “vitiates marital consent because either or both the child bride or groom are underage to give valid consent,” said Lagman.
According to Lagman, among the “deleterious” effects of child marriage is that it compromises the child bride’s maternal health and her infant’s health and development outcomes;
It also “exposes the child bride to economic vulnerabilities as she is deprived of completing her education, attaining adequate work skills, and securing remunerative employment; and perpetuates intergenerational povert,” he said.
Lagman also explained that the concept of “child marriage” must be revised to include co-habitations outside of wedlock between children, and between adult men and underage girls because they have the same adverse consequences of child marriages.
“Enactment of the enabling law is assured because the Senate has already approved its counterpart bill prohibiting child marriage,” he said.