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(Amend Discriminatory Laws Against Women) Privilege Speech of Rep. Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica, 4th District, Bulacan House of Representatives Plenary Hall 23 November 2010 Mr. Speaker, Esteemed Colleagues: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege in connection with the issue of gender inequality as manifested in some of our laws. Personal because I am a woman, a mother and a wife who stands to lose more because of gender inequality. Collective because the matter of gender inequality involves the role of congress in this nations quest for social development. Imagine a scenario like this. The silence of the night is broken by a loud scream for help. Tapos ang maririnig mo ay ang maingay na tick tack ng takong ng sapatos na tumatakbo para rumesponde sa sigaw ng tulong. The responding police officer is a woman required under the PNP rules and regulations to wear a short skirt and high heeled shoes to work. Makakahabol ka ba sa isang snatcher kung ikaw ay naka maikling palda at may takong ang iyong sapatos? Good fashion sense is not wanting in the PNP after all. That is service in style or is this fashion statement actually a statement of gender inequality? The matter on the uniform of our police women officers is but part of a bigger picture. Gender equality goes beyond than what it is normally perceived. It is the heart of social development which is part and parcel of national development. In fact, it is critical to the achievement of our national goals. Thus, the 2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, a study sponsored by the United Nations, concluded that gender equality has positive multiplier effects for a range of key development goals, including poverty reduction. It is no wonder then that the global trend today is to acknowledge that gender equality and women empowerment are human rights that lie at the heart of development.1 For the Philippines, we recognize that equality before the law is the embodiment of our status as a democratic and republican state. Our Constitution itself emphasizes the importance of gender equality. It also recognizes the role of women in nation building. To this end, Article II Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the State shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of men and women.2 Such provision is, in fact, included by the drafters of the Constitution precisely to address the gender-related imbalances in
1 2 Article II, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution.

law and jurisprudence.3 Thus, consistent with the mandate of the Constitution, government institutions should make gender equality one of their primary guiding principles in performing their functions. One example of an institution committed to adopting such principle is the Philippine National Police. I participated in the 6th National Biennial Summit on Women in Policing held last October 21 in Palawan, as has been my custom as a board member of the Friends of the PNP, an NGO that became the natural outcome of a commitment by members of the Soroptimist International of the Philippines Region, to assist in the capability-building of our policewomen officers who run particularly the Women and Childrens Protection Desk. It has been 12 years, since we began helping our fellow women in the police force. Of late, weve seen a spike in attendance to our summit as well as a deepening of understanding of what it will take to break-in a work culture prejudicial to women. Upon the conclusion of the summit, a Manifesto recommending the amendment of existing PNP policies on uniforms pursuant to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta for Women4 was drawn up. Specifically, they simply wanted to be allowed to wear pants and appropriate low-heeled shoes in the conduct of operational duties and administrative functions. This move certainly got the endorsement of Police Security Protection Group Director Lina Sarmiento, now the only woman general in the country today. In an agency tasked to enforce the law, the manifesto almost seems trivial and so 1950s, if based on the picture of the Los Angeles Women Police, but therein lies the irony. Nonetheless, we emerge from these conferences with renewed confidence that such days are numbered. As a matter of fact, General Raul M. Bacalzo of the Philippine National Police delivered a speech there where he emphasized the need for the PNP to enhance the eight (8) foundation initiatives for the women in the police force. These initiatives are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Basic training; Procurement; Equipage; Police-community partnership; Doctrine development; Reward and punishment; Human rights; and Mentoring leadership.

Within these principles, it is hoped the needs and aspirations of women in the police force will be addressed. These will help prime and train them in their roles as peace keepers and law enforcers.


Record of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, Volume 4, No. 85 (17 September

Revise policies on uniforms to allow women in the military, police, and similar services to wear pants and appropriately low-heeled shoes in the conduct of operational duties and performance of administrative functions. 2

Taking cue from such example of embracing gender equality and women empowerment, we, in Congress, can also do our part. After all, statistical data5 provided by the National Statistics Coordination Board show that Filipino women today have higher functional and basic literacy rates, lower unemployment rate, higher happiness index and higher life expectancy at birth than Filipino men. Sa madaling salita, mas maabilidad, mas tinatanggap sa trabaho, mas masayahin, o mas magaling magdala ng problema, at mas mahaba ang buhay ng babae kaysa lalake! Within the strictures of Article VI of the Constitution, we can enhance gender equality and women empowerment. We should amend or repeal discriminatory laws, particularly those which tend to weaken the rights of women. Although we have achieved quite a lot in terms of women empowerment, there are still statutes existing in our legal system which restrict womens rights. For example, there are provisions in the Family Code which give priority over the decision of the husband or the father despite the fact that the spouses are presumed to be on equal status within a family unit. Such provisions are as follows: Under Article 14,6 persons between the ages of 18 and 21 who wish to marry must first obtain the consent of their father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them, in that order. Thus, once a father gives his consent for his child to marry, the contrary wishes of the mother is automatically vetoed.

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National Statistics Coordination Board Fact Sheet, 1 March 2010. ARTICLE 14. In case either or both of the contracting parties, not having been emancipated by a previous marriage, are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, they shall, in addition to the requirements of the preceding articles, exhibit to the local civil registrar, the consent to their marriage of their father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them, in the order mentioned. Such consent shall be manifested in writing by the interested party, who personally appears before the proper local civil registrar, or in the form of an affidavit made in the presence of two witnesses and attested before any official authorized by law to administer oaths. The personal manifestation shall be recorded in both applications for marriage license, and the affidavit, if one is executed instead, shall be attached to said applications. 3

In the administration of the property of the spouses, Articles 967 and 1248 provide that the administration and enjoyment of the property of the spouses shall belong to both of them jointly. However, in case of disagreement, the decision of the husband will prevail. The wife still needs to file the proper case with the court before her decision is to be respected. In the exercise of parental authority over their children, Article 2119 provides that such parental authority shall be exercised jointly by the father and mother. However, in case of disagreement, the decision of the father shall prevail. The mother still has to secure a judicial order for her to exercise her wishes. Does this mean that the fathers decision has more merit than the mothers just because he is male and he said so? Is competence or wisdom gender specific?

ARTICLE 96. - The administration and enjoyment of the community property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husband's decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from the date of the contract implementing such decision. ARTICLE 124. - The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husband's decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for a proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from the date of the contract implementing such decision. In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not include the powers of disposition or encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.

ARTICLE 211. The father and the mother shall jointly exercise parental authority over the persons of their common children. In case of disagreement, the father's decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary. Children shall always observe respect and reverence toward their parents and are obliged to obey them as long as the children are under parental authority. 4

Furthermore, in the matter of guardianship over their children, Article 22510 provides that the father and mother shall jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of their children. However, in case of disagreement, the fathers decision, again, shall prevail. These provisions reflect the old-fashioned view that in case of family matters, the decision of the husband or father shall prevail. However, the time has come for that view to be changed. An amendment to the foregoing laws will encourage mutual participation between the husband and wife in the resolution of the issues affecting their family. This is consistent with the thrust of our Constitution to strengthen the family as a basic unit of our society. Another basic statute replete with provisions demonstrating gender inequality is our antiquated Revised Penal Code. For example, Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code,11 which punishes prostitution, specifically limits prostitutes to women. Moreover, this provision

ARTICLE 225. The father and the mother shall jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of their unemancipated common child without the necessity of a court appointment. In case of disagreement, the father's decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary. Where the market value of the property or the annual income of the child exceeds P50,000, the parent concerned shall be required to furnish a bond in such amount as the court may determine, but not less than ten per centum (10%) of the value of the property or annual income, to guarantee the performance of the obligations prescribed for general guardians. A verified petition for approval of the bond shall be filed in the proper court of the place where the child resides, or, if the child resides in a foreign country, in the proper court of the place where the property or any part thereof is situated. The petition shall be docketed as a summary special proceeding in which all incidents and issues regarding the performance of the obligations referred to in the second paragraph of this Article shall be heard and resolved. casia The ordinary rules on guardianship shall be merely suppletory except when the child is under substitute parental authority, or the guardian is a stranger, or a parent has remarried, in which case the ordinary rules on guardianship shall apply.


ARTICLE 202. vagrants: 1. 2.

Vagrants and Prostitutes Penalty. The following are

Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling; Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support; Any idle or dissolute person who lodges in houses of ill-fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes; Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose; Prostitutes. 5

3. 4.


punishes women involved in prostitution when the modern view is to treat them as victims. Men who habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct for money or profit are not considered prostitutes. We all know that there are male prostitutes despite the fact that the Filipino term for prostitute P-U-T-A has no male counterpart! Another glaring example of gender inequality is the difference between Article 333,12 punishing adultery committed by the wife, and Article 334,13 punishing concubinage committed by the husband. Under the Revised Penal Code, the husband is guilty of concubinage under three expressly stated instances: 1) Maintaining a paramour in the conjugal dwelling; 2) Maintaining a paramour in a place other than the conjugal dwelling; and 3) Having sexual intercourse with the woman not his wife under scandalous circumstances. In the case of a woman, the woman is guilty of adultery as long as she has carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse with a man not her husband under any circumstance. These provisions indicate that if both spouses commit acts of infidelity, the wife is at a disadvantage because it is easier to prove adultery than concubinage. Also, each sexual intercourse by a wife to a man not her husband is considered one count of adultery. Whereas, a husband can cohabit with another woman for as long as ten years and that will be considered only as one count of concubinage. Finally, the penalty for adultery is higher than that of concubinage. Bakit ganoon? Bakit hindi pantay ang kaso ng babae sa lalake? These are patently discriminatory laws which need to be amended. And then there is the nightwork prohibition of women under Article 130 of the Labor Code. The Labor Code which was promulgated in 1974, did not foresee the development of industries that may require night or graveyard shifts of work. As a matter of fact, the Philippines now has the second largest Business Process
For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes. Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this article shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to prisin correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court.

ARTICLE 333. Who are Guilty of Adultery. Adultery is committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void. Adultery shall be punished by prisin correccional in its medium and maximum periods. If the person guilty of adultery committed this offense while being abandoned without justification by the offended spouse, the penalty next lower in degree than that provided in the next preceding paragraph shall be imposed.


ARTICLE 334. Concubinage. Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prisin correccional in its minimum and medium periods. The concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro. 6

Outsourcing Industry in the world, next to India.14 Yet equal opportunities brought about by this industry, or of any industry for that matter, are being limited by the nightwork prohibition. An industry wishing to employ women for purposes of nighttime work will have to secure an exemption from the DOLE from the coverage of the prohibition before she is hired. And yet, Section 3 Article 13 of the Constitution provides in part: The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. When a prohibition is specifically directed against women alone, is this promoting equality of employment opportunities for all? These are just examples of laws existing in our books which exemplify gender inequality. There are other archaic and antiquated laws which stifle womens rights, voice and power. Although I agree that our country has taken great leaps to address the discrimination of women, we must remain vigilant and strive harder to eradicate discrimination against women. It is a pity that we never retained the pre-colonial dignity and importance of women in our society. The 2000 study of Dr. Fe Mangahas and Professor Jenny Llaguno entitled Readings on Babaylan Feminism in the Philippines on Philippine pre-historic socio-political structure depicted Filipino women as powerful and influential figures in the society. They held the esteemed position of babaylan, an empowered class of women healers, advisers and intercessors between the material and spiritual worlds.15 They were the inspirers of arts and crafts. They were the believers of a holistic world view. They survived and preserved their culture. But sadly, this grandeur is lost under the heavy weight of discrimination and inequality perpetuated during our colonization. Our Filipino women today are products of our flawed but correctible laws. They need our help. And help they shall receive. May I now call on the Secretary General of the House of Representatives to receive the proposed House Bills that I have authored which will minimize, if not completely eliminate, discrimination against women. These bills are: ACTS STRENGTHENING WOMENS RIGHTS BY REMOVING THE PREFERENCE OF THE HUSBAND/FATHER, IN CASES OF DISAGREEMENT, IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND ENJOYMENT OF COMMUNITY PROPERTY, IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND ENJOYMENT OF
14 The Philippines has the second largest BPO industry in the world, next to India. Santiago said the industry was forecast to post $5.7 billion in revenues this year, whereas India was predicted to earn only $5.58 billion. Right now, about 400,000some sources say its closer to 500,000are employed in the Philippines newest sunshine industry, and almost every month the number is increasing, with new centers being opened or are in the process of being set up. Centennial Crossings, Readings on Babaylan Feminism in the Philippines, Dr. Fe Mangahas and Professor Jenny Laguno, 2000. 7



Bill Nos. 2175 and 859: An Act Expanding the Exceptions from the Night Work Prohibition of Women Employees, thereby Amending Article 131 of Presidential Decree Number Four Hundred Forty-two (P.D. 442), as amended, Otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines ARTICLE 131. Exceptions. - The prohibitions prescribed by the preceding Article shall not apply in any of the following cases: (a) In cases of actual or impending emergencies caused by serious accident, fire, flood, typhoon, earthquake, epidemic or other disasters or calamity, to prevent loss of life or property, or in cases of force majeure or imminent danger to public safety; (b) In case of urgent work to be performed on machineries, equipment or installation, to avoid serious loss which the employer would otherwise suffer; (c) Where the work is necessary to prevent serious loss of perishable goods; (d) Where the woman employee holds a responsible position of managerial or technical nature, or where the woman employee has been engaged to provide health and welfare services; (e) Where the nature of the work requires the manual skill and dexterity of women workers and the same cannot be performed with equal efficiency by male workers; (f) Where the women employees are immediate members of the family operating the establishment or undertaking; (g) where increasing demand for work demand equal opportunities to work at night; (h) Under other analogous cases exempted by the Secretary of Labor and Employment in appropriate regulations.



Senate Bill No. 1131: An Act Promoting the Administration of Justice for Women, Children and other Oppressed sector, Establishing for the Purpose an Omnibus Framework to address the problem of Prostitution, Support Services for its victims, Higher Penalties for Perpetuators and promoters and for Other Purposes Some Highlights of the Bill: 8

3. House Bill No. 58918 on the rationalization of Nightwork Prohibition. May I also invite the attention of the Executive Department to certify these bills as urgent measures so as to accelerate their passage. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to call on his Excellency, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, that when he convenes the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council or LEDAC to consider these Bills as part of the administrations legislative agenda for approval of both Houses of Congress during the First Regular Session of the 15th Congress. Also, may I solicit the support of my partymates in the Liberal Party to include these Bills as part of the legislative agenda of the Party. We must remember that the ideological formation of liberalism is to build a society in which individual men and women are entitled to pursue their aims, develop their talents and fulfill their potential, free from arbitrary interference, and are able to exercise real power over the institutions that govern their lives. The primary thrust of my proposed Bills is in conformity with this vision.
Any man, woman or child used or employed for another persons sexual gratification, pleasure and/or exploitation and for the monetary gain or profit of others shall be treated as Victims of Prostitution and as such shall not incur criminal liability; Acts of Prostitution include: (1) Any person who gives or deliver money or any other consideration in exchange for the actual performance or mere demonstration of sexual act by a person exploited in prostitution, regardless of whether the person giving or delivering money or any other consideration is the recipient of such sexual act; (2) any person who is a recipient of a sexual act; (3) any person who offers another for sexual exploitation for money or any other consideration; (4) any person who induces, persuades, kidnaps, recruits or in any manner procures or causes a person to serve in an establishment knowing that the same is involved in prostitution activities or when she has reasonable cause to believe that such establishment is involved in said activities; (5) any person who uses information technology or any form of media for the purpose of prostitution. House Bill 589: An Act Rationalizing the Nightwork Prohibition on Women Workers thereby Amending articles 130 and 131 of Presidential Decree Number Four Hundred Forty-Two (PD 442), As Amended, otherwise Known as the Labor Code of the Philippines Some Highlights of the Bill:


No woman shall be employed or permitted or suffered to work at night during a period of at least 11 consecutive hours, including an interval falling between 10pm and 6am the following day, in any industrial undertaking or in any branch thereof, other than an undertaking in which only members of the same family are employed. The term industrial undertaking shall mean: (1) mines, quarries and other works for the extraction of minerals from earth; (2) undertakings in which articles are manufactured, altered, cleaned, repaired, ornamented, finished, adapted for sale, broken up or demolished, or in which materials are transformed; (3) undertakings engaged in shipbuilding or in the generation, transformation or transmission of electricity or motive power of any kind; (4) undertakings engaged in building and civil engineering work, including construction, repair, maintenance, alteration and demolition work. 9

Finally, I appeal, most importantly, to my fellow lady legislators that we gather our strengths and together carry the torch of womens rights in the 15th Congress by supporting legislative measures that promote the welfare of women. We must bear in mind that when women are exculpated from the bondage of discrimination, they will be free as true human beings. This will pave the way for their equal participation and contribution in the governance of our society. Consequently, this will help us realize our goal to establish a just, peaceful and progressive society. The time has come for the remnants of the chains of discrimination and inequality that have manacled our Filipino women - to be discarded, thrown to the dustbins and forgotten completely. MR. SPEAKER, ESTEEMED COLLEAGUES OF THIS AUGUST CHAMBER, LET US AMEND DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AGAINST WOMEN, NOW!