Dateline Manila: Senate seeks to repeal law that discriminates women PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2014 13:17

BY Sammy Santos


Filipino women, did you know that there are still laws in our books that are so outdated and antiquated and tend to discriminate against women?

The Senate took the bold step this week and passed a bill that seeks to repeal an old law which penalizes widows who remarry within 301 days after the death of her husband. What makes this law utterly unfair is that no such prohibition exists for men.

Senate Bill No. 1647, filed by Sen. Nancy Binay and sponsored by Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality, seeks to repeal Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes women who contract premature marriages.

Senate President Frank Drilon lauded the lady senators who took the lead in the latest effort of the Upper Chamber to uplift the welfare and dignity of the Filipino women as well as eliminate discrimination and promote gender equality.

“This measure enjoyed the full support of the Senate, for it is only right to abolish laws that serve no purpose other than to perpetuate discrimination against women,” commented Drilon after the bill was approved on third reading last Wednesday.

Known as the “Crime of Premature Marriage,” the prohibition in Article 351 also covers women whose marriages have been annulled or dissolved, and wishes to get married before the expiration of the period of 301 days after her legal separation. Under the law, violators face punishment of one month to six months jail term and a fine not exceeding P500.

Senator Binay, who has adopted the promotion of women’s and children’s rights as her main political advocacies, explained why she wanted the law repealed: “Since there has been no known conviction for violation of Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code, it is high time that we in Congress take the necessary step to abolish antiquated laws that serve no purpose other than to perpetuate discrimination against women.”

“Approval of the measure by a male dominant-Senate is the right step towards ensuring the equality of law between men and women,” Binay added.

Senator Pia Cayetano, another staunch advocate of women’s rights in the Senate, noted that there should be no room for laws that “perpetuate discrimination against women.” The bill was supported by the other members of the women’s section in the chamber namely Senators Loren Legarda, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar.

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Speaking of Senator Nancy Binay, the feisty eldest daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, merely laughed off bashers of her outfit during Monday’s State of the Nation Address and even bared that she was fond of one of the memes generated from her picture online.

The lady senator was referring to an edited photo of her made to look like the lead female character in the popular “Shrek” movie franchise that is making the rounds in social media.

Doing away with the traditional terno during the Senate opening of the Second Session of the 16th Congress Monday, Binay wore a white and green number featuring a skirt in the style of traditional Korean costumes.

After pictures of her outfit were posted online, people on Twitter and Facebook had a field day with her get-up.

Instead of getting offended, Binay remained cool, even expressing admiration for the creativity of her bashers, according to a story published in the GMA News Online.

In yesterday’s Kapihan sa Senado forum, Binay echoed her “what-me-worry” stance towards her outfit controversy.

“Hindi talaga. May personality din ako na no reaction, and my high school batchmates can attest to the fact. Parang sila, natataranta na, pero ako, No Reaction lang,” Binay told Senate reporters during the forum when asked how she felt about her online fashion critics.

Asked why she thought online critics were picking on her: “Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit, and yet, siguro yung nae-evoke ko na emotion (of) extreme hatred.”

Would she react to those who criticized her outfit: “Walang time. Parang iisipin ko pa ba yung isasagot ko, mas marami akong dapat isipin na mas mahalagang bagay kesa doon sa isasagot ko sa kanila.”

What was her dad’s reaction to those bashing her attire online: “Parang wala, hindi naman kasi siya ganoon ka-active (sa social media), hindi siya ganoon ka-techie.”

Senator Nancy Binay is a good sport, if you ask me.

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Still on the Senate, the chamber also approved last Wednesday a bill that seeks to encourage business acumen among young Filipinos by introducing entrepreneurship and financial subjects in the school curriculum.

Sen. Bam Aquino, chair of the Committee of Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and sponsor of Senate Bill 2212, said the measure seeks to encourage Filipinos to go into businesses as an alternative solution to the country’s unemployment and underemployment problem.

“As the number of unemployed youth in the country grows each year, we really have to create new ways of thinking to address the epidemic,” Aquino said in his sponsorship speech. “Through training and exposure, young people would have an option of choosing to be their own bosses and start their own businesses as an option, instead of being an employee for a company that is not their own.”

Once enacted into law, the measure will mandate the Department of Education to develop and integrate subjects and competencies in entrepreneurship in the curriculum for the primary, secondary and alternative learning modules.

In addition, the measure will also require the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other private institutions to develop entrepreneurship and financial literacy modules for the tertiary and post-secondary education.

Aquino said financing and grants would also be provided for the students, together with mentoring and the much-needed market linkages. “Financial literacy in the basic education system is a good foundation for entrepreneurship in the future,” Aquino said.

Also last Wednesday, two other bills were approved by the Senate that seeks to make education more accessible to poor and working Filipino students.

Approved were Senate Bill No. 2272, also known as the Ladderized Education Act of 2014 and Senate Bill No. 2274, or the Open Learning and Distance Education Act.

SBN 2272 was sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, and co-sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar while SBN 2274 was sponsored by Cayetano and co-sponsored by Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, Antonio Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Villar.

Drilon welcomed the passage of the bills a day after the opening of the 16th Congress, saying that the improvement of the national education system “remains as one of the most important in our legislative agenda.”

“These approved measures are designed to remove barriers to the effective delivery of education throughout the country, such as poverty, distance and age. We really need to make our education more readily accessible to all for a better future,” Drilon said.