PAO chief backs ‘husband’s lover’ bill

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MANILA, Philippines—The bill filed by Albay Rep. Edcel ‘‘Grex’’ Lagman Jr. penalizing extra-marital affairs of lovers of same sex has gained a supporter in the person of Atty. Persida Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

Acosta  said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990 AM on Friday that if Lagman’s bill becomes a law, legislators should revise the Family Code of the Philippines by including the bill’s provisions in the Code.

House Bill 2352, or “My Husband’s Lover” bill, was named after the hit television drama series featuring an aggrieved wife whose husband is engaging in an illicit relationship with a gay man.

It proposes  to improve Article 333 of the Revised Penal Code (Crimes Against Chastity) which penalizes persons commiting adultery and concubinage.

Acosta reiterated that the laws of the country on marriage and family are already “obsolete.”

She said she is also recommending that spouses who are guilty of Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC), “habitual” drug addiction and sexual infidelity be considered as grounds for declaring a marriage null and void.

“’Yung mga anak na nire-rape ng ama sa harap pa mismo ng ina, hindi pa ba ground for marriage ‘yon? (Fathers raping their daughters in front of their mothers, isn’t this enough ground for nullifying marriage?)” Acosta lamented.

Asked if husbands or wives who eventually come out as gays would be penalized too, she said that this case is not criminal unless the husband or wife is caught having sexual relations or living in with his or her partner of same sex.

Expressing her support for Lagman Jr.’s bill, Acosta said that the country needs a law that promotes gender equality now that society recognizes the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.

She pointed out that although the presence of feminist movement helps distressed wives by empowering them to file cases against their abusive husbands, most “traditional” Filipino women would rather tolerate their partners and preserve their marriage vows.

But Acosta said that before passing the bill, it should clearly define the grounds and limits of the case.

“Dapat ingat sa pagpapasa ng batas na iyan. Dapat talaga may sapat na ebidensya at patunay (Congress should be careful in passing the bill. In filing cases, the evidence and proof must be sufficient ),” she added.

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