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SolGen: We’ll ask SC to junk bid on same-sex marriage in PH

/ 05:00 PM January 08, 2016

The Office of the Solicitor General will ask the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition seeking to abolish the Family Code’s provision that bans same-sex marriage in the Philippines.

This was what Solicitor General Florin Hilbay told members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when asked what his stand is on the issue during a public interview held Friday with aspirants to a post in the high court.

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Hilbay is one of the 16 nominees to the post that will be vacated by Supreme Court Associate Justice Martin Villarama who decided to retire early citing health reasons. Villarama will retire on January 16 this year.

“We will file a comment seeking dismissal of that petition. I believe, according to the rules, that the petition ought to be dismissed,” Hilbay said.

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Hilbay said the petition, which was filed last year by lawyer Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III, has no merit.

Falcis, who identifies himself as “openly gay,”  is urging the high court to nullify Articles 1 and 2 as well as Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the Family Code.

Articles 1 and 2 limit marriages between man and woman while Articles 46(4) and 55 (6) mention lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

Falcis claimed that the Family Code, in limiting marriage between man and woman, is unconstitutional because it deprives him of his right to liberty without substantive due process of law and the equal protection of the laws, and also violates Section 3(1) Article 15 of the 1987 Constitution.

During the JBC interview, Hilbay was asked about his personal opinion on marriage, particularly about his book “Unplugging the Constitution” covering his pragmatic perspective on marriage.

“I tell my students one does not need marriage to validate one’s feelings. The fundamental value of belonging — that can extend beyond the marital boundaries,” Hilbay said.

“I don’t get happy because they are married. I get happy because they are in a relationship. Marriage is just a public commitment for them to live as husband and wife,” Hilbay, who is still single at 41, said.

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Retired Supreme Court Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, who is 77 and a member of the JBC, asked Hilbay if the Constitution should be amended based on what he said in his book.

“It’s my opinion that marriage is the foundation of a family,” Gutierrez said, citing Section 12 Article II of the Constitution.

Hilbay countered that what was written in his book is a philosophical piece.

“I do accept the reality of marriage as a legal foundation regardless of my views. As Solicitor-General, I consider myself entirely faithful to the Constitution. I don’t have any right to impose any personal views I have,” he said.

“As a matter of law, I recognize that society considers it an institution. A justice of the Supreme Court would be committing an impeachable offense if he disrespects that,” he said, adding that he has no plans of going out and campaign for delegalization of marriage.

Hilbay also told the JBC members that being single does not mean matandang binata (old bachelor), irritable and ill-tempered.

“Single-blessedness. I can devote my time to my work with enough space for things I consider important: family, music, arts, philosophy. I have no reason to be sad. In my way, I have been very lucky with what I have experienced. The past two years have been unbelievably exciting for me,” Hilbay said.

Hilbay led the government delegation in the country’s arbitration case against China over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, last year. The Philippines already won round one of the case.

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TAGS: Family Code, Florin Hilbay, jesus nicardo m. falcis iii, Judicial and Bar Council, news, Office of the Solicitor General, same sex marriage, Supreme Court
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