Civil union bill among priorities for next legislative session

MANILA-- A measure seeking to legalize civil union not just for same-sex couples but also for heterosexual couples is among the top priorities of the House of Representatives for the second regular session.

In a press conference Monday, Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said the civil union bill, which has yet to be filed, aims to promote the civil and human rights of same-sex couples and even heterosexual couples who want to live together but are not yet ready to get married.

Garcia further noted that the bill will address the changing reality and growing necessity of our times as it will provide property rights, custodial rights over children, and adoption rights for same-sex couples, as well as partners of the opposite sex.

"It is also our reality of times that there are heterosexual couples that would choose to just perhaps stay unmarried but would live together. We need to address the changing realities of our time," Garcia said.

"Rest assured, all of these concerns -- whether existing laws such as the family code or the Constitution would be transgressed -- this will all be tackled on the committee level," she added.

Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has expressed his intention to file a bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex and heterosexual couples.

The 17th Congress will open its second regular session on July 24.

For his part, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro said the civil union bill will still undergo deliberations in the committee level and the House plenary. The lower chamber will also consult all sectors of society regarding their views on the matter.

Castro, however, stressed that he will oppose such proposal if it will weaken or damage the principle of family solidarity.

"Ako ay pabor sa pag-maintain ng solidarity sa isang pamilya at kung ang panukalang batas na ito ay siyang gigiba o kung ang panukalang batas na ito ay siyang magpapahina ng tinatawag na dapat na isang matatag at solidong pagsasama ng mag-asawa ako ay tutol sa panukalang yan," Castro said.

"Sapagkat ang akin ay ibig kong manatili na ang kasal ng mag-asawa ay isang solidong relasyon hindi lamang dahil sa ating batas kundi pati na rin sa ating paniniwala sa May Kapal na ang Diyos lamang ang siyang may kapangyarihan na maghiwalay kung sino man ang kanyang pinagsama," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency