Duterte signs law prohibiting child marriages
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill that criminalizes and prohibits child marriage.
According to the Republic Act No. 11596 that was signed last December 10 and just released on Thursday, "the State affirms that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of capacitated parties, and child betrothal and marriage shall have no legal effect."
The Act defines the child as "any human being under 18 years of age, or any person 18 years of age or over but who is unable to fully take care and protect oneself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition."
The person who facilitates or arranges child marriage “shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000" but if "the perpetrator is a parent, adoptive or step parent, or guardian of the child, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000 and perpetual loss of parental authority."
The same penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P50,000 shall also applies to those who perform or officiate a child marriage, and an adult partner who cohabits with a child outside wedlock.
The law also noted that any person who produces or tampers documents to misrepresent the age of a child shall also be held liable.
"If the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office,” it stated.
Prision mayor carries a jail term of six years and one day to 12 years.
It also state that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) "shall take the lead in the implementation of the act and create programs that will address the prevalence of child marriage and provide appropriate services including but not limited to legal services, health services, psychological services, counseling, educational, livelihood and skills development, temporary shelter and all other assistance necessary to protect victims of child marriage and their offspring." Robina Asido/DMS