The House committee on women and gender equality continued this week its deliberations on the latest draft of a measure seeking to recognize civil partnerships and provide for their rights.
House Bill No. 6595, principally authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, aims to support the welfare and well-being of couples, of either the opposite or same sex, who are denied their rights and obligations on account of absence of legal provisions that recognize their relationship and amply provide for their protection.
Committee chairperson Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy led the panel in its discussions on provisions of the bill. Dy solicited the insights of relevant agencies on the provisions of the measure’s most recent version, as well as responded to their view or comments.
The advocacy group Coalition of Christians for Change commented on the penal provisions of the measure. In particular, the group noted that organizations may face a fine of not less than P100,000 and a maximum of P500,000, and/or imprisonment of one to five years “for simply refusing to hire on this basis.” The group said there are instances where employers would like to ensure that the nature of the relationships of their applicants would remain in consonance with the principles of the organization.
Herrera-Dy explained that the spirit of the bill is to protect couples from discrimination.
Representatives of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) expressed support for HB 6595, though the agency noted that it may affect its actuarial line depending on how “civil partnership” shall be defined once the bill is enacted into law. GSIS stressed that as long as the couples pay the required premiums, they shall receive the benefits offered by the system.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that the DSWD poses no objection to the bill. The DSWD proposed that the provisions of the Family Code should not clash with Section 12 of HB 6595, the adoption provision of the measure.
In particular, Family Code provides that parental authority shall be exercised by the father or the mother, but the father’s decision shall prevail in the event of a disagreement. The Family Code also mandates that should parents separate, children under seven years of age shall not be separated from the mother.
These provisions and HB 6595 shall have to be harmonized, given that HB 6595 provides that civil partners may both be female or male.
Meanwhile, the Land Registration Authority representatives asked if HB 6595 has any implications on the Property Regime Decree and on transfer of property.
Present during the deliberations were Deputy Speakers Gwen Garcia and Linabelle Ruth Villarica, and Reps. Arlene Brosas, Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay, France Castro, Antonio Tinio, and Ria Vergara, among others.