SC associate justice aspirant favors same-sex marriage
MANILA, Philippines — One of the aspirants to the Supreme Court associate justice post is in favor of same sex marriage “in the pursuit of happiness.”
During Tuesday’s interview, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) asked the aspirants their opinion about same-sex marriage.
The question coincided with the celebration of Pride Month — or the call for positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Same-sex marriage was also the topic given to the candidates during their decision-writing examination last June 20.
Currently pending at the Supreme Court is a petition filed by lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III seeking to legalize same-sex marriage and declare as unconstitutional provisions of the Family Code that defines and limits marriage as between a man and a woman.
The SC heard oral arguments on the issue last year with Solicitor General Jose Calida arguing that the Constitution limits marriage between a man and a woman.
Court of Appeals Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato Jr. noted that under the 1987 Constitution “no person can be deprived of life and liberty without due process of law nor the equal protection of the law. Under the equal protection [clause] all persons should be treated alike as to the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed.”
“To me, there is no valid distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals when it comes to marriage,” Bato said.
He pointed out that procreation is not the only purpose of marriage.
“By denying homosexuals the right to choose their partner, you’ll be discriminating them and that is a violation also of substantive due process because the law would not be reasonable your honor,” he said.
“They should be allowed to, in the pursuit of happiness, choose their partner,” Bato said.
Other candidates, however, were not so keen on allowing such a marriage, also citing the Constitution.
“We have to study that, your Honor. But as a very religious person, I would not allow that,” Bureau of Internal Revenue Deputy Commissioner Lanee Cui-David said.
On the other hand, Court of Appeals Associate Justices Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr. and Manuel Barrios and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang are against it.
The three justices said that while the Constitution did not mention same-sex marriage it was conceptualized at the time when marriage was seen only between opposite sexes.
“As of now, same-sex marriage is not attuned to the Constitution,” Bruselas said.
In agreeing with Bruselas, Tang said: “The Constitution at the time it was adopted, your honors, at the time it was adopted, the Civil Code provided that marriage was and still is between a man and a woman.”
Tang also told the JBC that the framers of the Constitution mentioned before that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
She said the deliberation “should ascertain that we preserve their intent.”
Barrios said only a man and a woman could enter into a contract of marriage under the current constitutional setup.
For his part, another SC hopeful, Court of Appeals Associate Justice Ramon Cruz had a more liberal view on the controversial issue, saying nobody thought before that women would be allowed to vote or even that people in Mindanao would be able to govern.
But Cruz clarified his position. His line of reasoning, he said, fell within the “scope that counts in favor of same-sex marriage.”
But he added: “I am not saying at this time that I am in favor of it.”
CA Associate Justice Oscar Badelles also made known his openness to the possibility of same-sex marriage in the Philippines in the future.
“We do not know what will come up in the next few years. We do not know maybe someday, transgenders can procreate,” he told the JBC.
The third and last interview will be on June 26 with CA Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Eduardo Peralta Jr., Japar Dimaampao, Ramon Garcia, Jhosep Lopez, Mario Lopez, Edgardo delos Santos and Ricardo Rosario, Sandiganbayan Justices Efren dela Cruz and Alex Quiroz, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and former Ateneo law school dean Cesar Villanueva taking the stand.
Those who were interviewed last Friday were Gatdula and CA Associate Justices Rodil Zalameda, Pabilot Perez and Maria Filomena Singh.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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