RT Cunningham

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Marriage and Sexual Consent in the Philippines

Tagged with advice, age, consent, marriage, philippines, united states on March 9, 2024

marriage I have a tendency to study history in order to understand why things are the way they are today. That’s especially true with legalities. I’m focusing on marriage and sexual consent in the Philippines in this article, and I’m offering some opinions as well. Expats, who aren’t already married, need to be aware of these laws.


Article 54 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 386 of 1949, allowed for the marriage of females 14 and above, and males 16 and above, without any impediments.

Article 14 of the Family Code of the Philippines, Executive Order 209 of 1987, placed impediments for males and females both above the age of 18. According to the article:

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.

According to article 15:

Any contracting party between the age of twenty-one and twenty-five shall be obliged to ask their parents or guardian for advice upon the intended marriage. If they do not obtain such advice, or if it be unfavorable, the marriage license shall not be issued till after three months following the completion of the publication of the application therefor.

When are Filipinos considered adults? Everything I’ve read indicates 18. Why would an adult require consent or advice? Draconian laws (or executive orders in this case) don’t make things better.

Sexual Consent

Paragraph 3 of article 335 of The Revised Penal Code, Act No. 3815 of 1930 (while a United States territory), says this:

When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present.

It implies, without explicitly stating, the age of consent is 12 or above for women. It mentions nothing about men. Also, the Anti-Rape Law, Republic Act No. 8353 of 1997 merely amended article 266 of the law I previously cited.

It wasn’t until Republic Act No. 11648 of 2022, that the age of consent was raised to 16 by amending the first law I cited again. In this case, it doesn’t specify a man or a woman. It uses the term “another person”.

As for civilian Americans and foreigners, it has been 16 since the PROTECT Act, Public Law 108-21 of 2003, went into effect. For the American military, it’s been 16 since article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice was written. I don’t know when that was, but it was before 1992 according to all the amendments I’ve read.

America Isn’t Any Better

When it comes to the age of marriage in the United States, the lowest age without some form of consent is 18. At one point in time, the age of sexual consent in the United States was significantly lower than it is today, which is 16 in most states. In America, the laws concerning marriage and the age of sexual consent are legislated at the state level. In the Philippines, those particular laws are legislated at the national level.

Although there is legislation making its way through the Congress of the Philippines concerning the legalization of divorce, divorce doesn’t yet exist in the Philippines. There’s marriage and annulment. That’s it, and annulment is prohibitively expensive. Many couples in both countries opt to simply live together to avoid any hassles. That includes avoiding marriage and dissolution of marriage. Unless children are involved, it’s way simpler.

I’m not judging anyone or anything, to be clear. In my opinion, and perhaps my opinion alone, parents need to do more parenting so that governments don’t have to legislate the responsibilities of parents in the first place.

Image by Bing Naranjo from Pixabay

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