Marriage and Sexual Consent in the Philippines

marriageWhen my younger son, Jon, was getting ready to get married in the Philippines, I read everything I could find about marriage ages in the Philippines. “The Family Code of the Philippines” was, until recently, too liberal with both sex and marriage. The age of sexual consent used to be the age of 12. Although no Philippine laws specifically stated it, articles 335 and 337 of “The Revised Penal Code” of 1930 alluded to it, as did Republic Acts 7610 (1992) and 8353 (1997). They appeared to be loopholes, intentional or not.

The minimum age for consensual sex is now 16 in the Philippines. Republic Act 11648, signed by President Duterte on March 4, 2022, made the age of consent crystal clear.

Marriage Ages 18 through 20

Filipinos in the Philippines can’t live together or get married if either party is under the age of 18. Republic Act 115961 was signed by President Duterte on December 10, 2021, which superseded article 54 of the family code I mentioned. That article allowed marriage, with consent, for males and females at ages 14 and 16, respectively.

A male Filipino who wants to get married before the age of 20 must have a letter of consent from someone who has authority over him (usually parents). He cannot get married without it. Filipinos can live together, outside of wedlock, at anytime above the age of 17.

Marriage Ages of 18 through 24

A male Filipino aged 20 to 24, or a female aged 18 to 22, has one of two choices. They must either have a letter of advice from someone who has authority over them (typically parents) or they have to wait three months from the date of the marriage application.

When my younger son (who was 30 at the time) and my daughter-in-law got married, she was only 22. Her parents were on Mindanao, an island he wasn’t allowed to visit (he was in the United States Army). He had to bring them to Olongapo City on the island of Luzon. Filipinos who want to get married without any hassles have to wait until they’re both 25. That’s crazy.

The Age of Sexual Consent

As I said earlier, the age of consent for consensual sex is 16. That applies to both girls and boys. There are restrictions, of course. You can read the laws I mentioned if you want to know what they are. The laws, of course, apply to Filipinos. There is an American law, which I can’t cite, that says Americans can’t have sex with any foreigners (in a foreign country) below the age of 18, regardless of that country’s laws.

I see a lot of older men (Filipino or otherwise) with young women, especially in the malls and certain fast food places. Most Filipino women look really young until they’re well beyond their teens, so I really can’t say if any of them are under 18. Some city girls (but not all) seem to look older than their provincial counterparts, and I can only blame that on the overuse of make-up. I don’t see older women with younger men, but that’s probably because I’m not looking.

When Jon was going to college at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (a dedicated nursing school at the time), he met women who had children when they were 13, 14, and 15. It happens even if no one talks about it.

Only the Marriage Laws Can Be Enforced

Legal contracts, such as marriage, can be approved and enforced through the justice system in the Philippines. Every other aspect of any relationship is difficult to enforce on every island and every province of the Philippines.

Marriages, regardless of whether they’re religious or civil unions, are almost always public. Other relationships tend to be private. Authorities can’t enforce the law concerning a relationship when they know nothing about it. When the parties involved know the consequences of their actions, the authorities will never know about it.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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