House of Representatives

Civil union for same-sex couples, ugly, rich people – Speaker Alvarez

Bea Cupin

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Civil union for same-sex couples, ugly, rich people – Speaker Alvarez
The Speaker says, 'Ngayon kasi kapag absolute community of property…karamihan ngayon, kung hindi babae or lalaki, kahit na medyo pangit, kapag maraming pera pakakasalan mo'

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is not backing down on his push for legislation that would introduce civil unions in the Philippines. (READ: House prioritizes BBL, bills on same-sex civil unions, gov’t reorganization)

On Wednesday, January 3, Alvarez offered another advantage of his priority legislation: aside from offering protection for same-sex couples, it also benefits “ugly and rich” people who remain married only because of their money. “Ngayon kasi kapag absolute community of property…karamihan ngayon, kung hindi babae or lalaki, kahit na medyo pangit, kapag maraming pera pakakasalan mo,” said Alvarez, who said an amendment to the Family Code would make complete separation of property the default, instead of the absolute community of property, in the absence of a marriage settlement. (Right now, it’s absolute community of property. Many nowadays, male or female, even if the person is ugly, if he or she is rich, you’ll marry him or her.) This would prevent “marriages of convenience,” Alvarez told journalist Karen Davila during ANC’s Headstart. When asked if Congress should bother with people who choose to marry for convenience, Alvarez insisted they should. “Kailangan proteksyonan yung citizens, hindi ba? Yung mamamayan kailangang proteksyunan mo, yun ang trabaho namin, bigyan sila ng batas to protect them,” he said. (We need to protect the citizens, right? The ones who need protection, that’s our job, to make laws that would protect them.) “Okay. So yung pangit, pero mayaman, kailangan mong protektahan (Okay. So the ugly and rich, you need to protect)?” asked Davila. “Hindi ba? Ang daming ganoon, tapos maghihiwalay lang pala (Isn’t it? There are a lot of those cases and they just end up splitting anyway),” said the House’s top official. Davila dropped the topic but not without telling Alvarez: “I’m going to forgive for this whole argument because it’s new year.” Second ‘marriage’ for Alvarez? The House Speaker also wants legislation that would introduce “dissolution of marriage” in a country where annulments take long and cost an arm and a leg. Alvarez said that the current annulment process is expensive, takes too long, and is too “confrontational” because it requires former spouses to accuse one another of “psychological incapacity.” Instead, the process should be “administrative and not judicial,” said Alvarez. When a marriage is “dissolved”, the two parties must negotiate the split in properties and how they would raise their children, if they have any. Alvarez went on a long narration about the income of women and spousal support in explaining his side. One spouse’s financial obligations to another, he said, would depend on their agreement. “Ito, ako masakit man aminin ito, pero karamihan ng mga spouses ngayon, yung mga babae mas maraming pera kaysa lalaki (It’s painful to admit but most spouses, it’s the woman who has more money than the man),” said Alvarez. “Bakit masakit yun (Why is it painful)?” asked Davila. “Masakit dahil yun nga, nakasanayan ng Pilipino na mas maraming pera yung lalaki kaysa babae (It’s painful because Filipinos are used to the man having more money than the woman),” answered Alvarez. “That’s not the point, the point is women fight for support and they can’t get it from the husbands,” said Davila. Alvarez replied in Filipino that, that kind of thinking seems to underestimate women as not being capable of working or finding livelihood, and that they need to be supported. “But that’s the responsibility of the man, with the kids,” said Davila. “Pero ngayon hindi na, may equality, hindi ba (But that’s not the case anymore because there’s equality, right)? Gender equality,” said Alvarez. Alvarez clarified that fathers will still be required to provide financial support to their children – but not to merely support their former spouse’s lifestyles. The Speaker also said the proposed law wasn’t necessarily to his advantage, since as a member of a “tribe in Mindanao,” he can enter into multiple marriages. Alvarez is still married to his wife but has been estranged since 2016. He is currently in a relationship with girlfriend Jennifer Maliwanag, who plays an active role in PDP-Laban Cares, the humanitarian arm of the ruling party. “I can do it. And I’m willing to do it,” said Alvarez, when asked if it means he is going to marry Maliwanag. He said he intends to marry her even if based on civil law, he cannot. “It’s allowed under the law. It’s in the IPRA law,” he said. – 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.