Jardeleza: Why not take same-sex marriage battle elsewhere?

MANILA, Philippines – For at least one justice, the Supreme Court (SC) may not be the best venue to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines. 

As he closed his interpellation of lawyer Jesus Falcis during the SC oral arguments on same-sex marriage, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza asked: Why not wait for same-sex marriage to be allowed by Congress or the Constitutional Consultative Committee (ConCom) instead of the Supreme Court possibly overreaching?

"There is a pending bill in the House at least on civil union and do you know who is the sponsor?" Jardeleza asked.

Falcis responded correctly, naming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

"So the main sponsor of the bill is the Speaker of the House. That is clout as clout can be. He’s the Speaker of the House," Jardeleza said.

He continued by saying that the ConCom is on its way to submit a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte in revising the country's Constitution. The Associate Justice mentioned the ConCom, given that one of the main points of contention in the oral arguments is whether the Constitution was written with procreation among families in mind.

Jardeleza then ended the series of questions by saying, "Unless you convince me otherwise, it seems to me that this bevy of platonic guardians (Supreme Court) should think about waiting for action from Congress and the conconvention (sic). This is just around the corner," Jardeleza told Falcis.

Falcis reply

Falcis replied by emphasizing that what he believes is a fundamental right of all people to marry – regardless of assigned sex – should not depend on political bodies.

"We would like to submit that again when it comes to fundamental rights, they do not depend on the outcome of an election and they cannot be the subject of a vote," he said.

He added that there are also members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community who have faced many problems because their religious marriages with their partners were not recognized by the state.

In closing the first session of the oral arguments, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio barely touched on the ideas posed by Falcis, and instead, tackled procedure, adding to the points raised by Jardeleza.

"Usually the Court will wait for Congress to act, because this involves policy issues and if Congress is considering the bill, we don’t want to pre-empt Congress," Carpio said.

The oral arguments will resume on Monday, June 26, also at 2 pm. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.