Family Code violates equal protection clause - law expert

Pacifico Agabin, a former dean of the UP College of Law, on Wednesday said the Family Code of the Philippines needed updating, especially its provisions on marriage. Read more: MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA News (2014). Ex-UP Law dean: Family Code’s provision on marriage violates equal protection clause.

"The Family Code's concept of marriage as a contract between a man and a woman aside from being obsolete, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution," said Agabin, who was a reactor during the professorial lecture of retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Vitug at the Court of Appeals.
"In my opinion, to bar the lesbians, the gays, the transsexuals and homosexuals from the civil right to marry would violate the guarantee of equal protection," he added.

But Vitug said there were still hurdles to overcome before a law recognizing gay marriage gets enacted.

"A lot of countries really have legalized this and here in the Philippines, I agree with my colleagues in the panel that it may take a while before we would be able to be in that stage," said Vitug after he delivered his lecture entitled, "Coping with Developing Landscape in Civil Law."

In Congress, Vitug said, there was a pending bill that seemed to go against the principle of gay marriage. He said the measure stressed the need to preserve the right of marriage between natural born males and natural born females.

"In other words, it is just the opposite that is going through right now so it may take a while before we can expect any possible changes," said the retired magistrate, who is the current chair of the Commercial Law Department of Philippine Judicial Academy.

Vitug said he was "not really" supporting gay marriage but stressed that property rights between members of the same sex should be recognized in the Philippines.

"I guess it will take time before I could change my mind on the concept of both sexes being married kasi there are really two relationships that you talk about when there is marriage is it not?," he said.

"One is the personal relationship of the party and the second would be the property relations," he added.

Vitug said Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code, which govern the property relationship between couples without the benefit of marriage, should be extended to include LGBTs.

"(The idea of extending property rights to LGBTs) is something not entirely new here. Tsaka mayroon tayong ibang laws. We have joint ventures. We have partnerships which are there already. So it is not totally new," he added.

And in case a petition on the matter reaches the Supreme Court, Vitug urged the magistrates to rule on whether same-sex marriages could actually include property relationships.

"If this goes to the Supreme Court, they cannot deny a decision because there should be law. It is possible that they may touch on that property relationship," he said. —NB, GMA News. Read more: MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA News (2014). Ex-UP Law dean: Family Code’s provision on marriage violates equal protection clause.