Laws are essential keys in ruling a nation. The Congress has been assigned for this task, and many of the laws and bills that were proposed and passed have helped us in our daily lives.
Law makings have had their hits and miss; however, we’ve had a lot of miss. Apparently, nobody told these guys that the laws they are supposed to be making had to make a lick of sense.
Sadly, we do have those lawmakers who come up with bills so bizarre and cringe-worthy that you yourself might wonder, “Where the hell did that come from?”
But no matter how these laws are so strange and quite outdated, it’s still better to know them lest you end up violating any of them, right? After all, ignorance of the law excuses no one.
Are you ready to weep?
It’s legal to rape your wife.
Republic Act 8353 (The Anti-Rape Law of 1997), which was a huge leap forward in the country’s drive against rapists, unfortunately had a tiny setback, specifically Article 266 Section C which states:
“The subsequent valid marriage between the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or the penalty imposed. In case it is the legal husband who is the offender, the subsequent forgiveness by the wife as the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or the penalty: Provided, that the crime shall not be extinguished or the penalty shall not be abated if the marriage is void ab initio.”
The offender being free from criminal liability after marrying the victim is tied closely to a Spanish-era provision in the Revised Penal Code, specifically Article 344 which states “in cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the marriage of the offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the penalty already imposed upon him.”
Adults (21 to 25-year-olds) still need advice from their parents before getting married.
For couples of this particular age category, Article 15 of the Family Code states that:
“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 it be unfavorable, the marriage license shall not be issued till after three months following the completion of the publication of the application there for. A sworn statement by the contracting parties to the effect that such advice has been sought, together with the written advice given, if any, shall be attached to the application for marriage license. Should the parents or guardian refuse to give any advice, this fact shall be stated in the sworn statement.”
Although technically it doesn’t bar the applicants from marrying, the “90-day rule” on the issuance of the marriage license means the couple who did not get positive parental advice (not unfavorable) would have to wait another three months before getting the marriage license, a formal requisite to getting hitched.
An election tie will have to be resolved by drawing of lots.
In 2013 general elections, two candidates literally tossed a coin for the mayorship of the town of San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro after both men wound up tied in the race.
While the whole method may look whimsical, it’s actually covered by the Omnibus Election Code which states that “the board of canvassers shall proceed to the drawing of lots of the candidates who have tied and shall proclaim as elected the candidates who may be favored by luck…”
It’s also supported by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9648 wherein “the Board immediately notifies the said candidates to appear before them for the drawing of lots to break the tie. The drawing of lots should be conducted within one (1) hour after issuance of notice by the Board to the candidates concerned.”
Apparently, drawing of lots is not unique to our electoral system since several states in the USA use the method as well.
In the recently concluded elections, a flipping on coins was conducted in the municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan to resolve a tie in the mayoral race.
You can still get jailed “for offending religious feelings.”
This obscure penal law, which dates back to the religiously fervent Spanish era and which was the main charge against Carlos Celdran, states that “the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prison correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.” It can be found in Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.
Widows must observe “301-day rule” before marrying again.
Section 351 of the Revised Penal Code states that “any widow who shall marry within three hundred and one day from the date of the death of her husband, or before having delivered if she shall have been pregnant at the time of his death, shall be punished by arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos.”
The rationale behind this was to “prevent confusion as to the paternity and filiation of the child,” in effect making this also an “enforced mourning period” for women according to its critics who say that the advent of modern technology which makes paternity testing readily available has rendered this law obsolete.
Senator Nancy Binay currently has a bill trying to repeal it.
Your family members and in-laws who commit theft, swindling, and malicious mischief against you are not criminally liable.
Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code states that “No criminal, but only civil liability shall result from the commission of the crime of theft, swindling, or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons: 1. Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line; 2. The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to the deceased spouse before the same shall have passed into the possession of another; and 3. Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, if living together.
As to why the offended party cannot pursue criminal charges, it is on the ground of preserving family harmony and solidarity.
Squatting is not a crime.
Republic Act 8368 or the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997” repealed former President Marcos’ Presidential Decree No. 772 which penalized squatting, technically making it a non-crime as of today on the basis that squatters are also victims of an unequal justice and social system .
As a small consolation to the hapless property owners however, the act still penalizes “professional squatters and syndicates” according to the provisions of another controversial law, Republic Act 7279, which is better known as the Lina Law.
Women get charged with adultery, men get charged with concubinage.
One look at Article 333 and 334 of the Revised Penal Code and you can see why the law tends to be stacked against women.
Charging a husband for an extra-marital affair in court is infinitely harder to prove since the woman has to prove any or all of the following: a. He has kept a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, b. He shall have sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife under scandalous circumstances, and/or c. He shall cohabit with her in any other place.
And even when the husband is convicted, he will at most serve a sentence of only six months to four years while his mistress would only be slapped with destierro or banishment.
On the other hand, proof of sexual intercourse between his wife and another man is all a husband needs to charge them both with adultery which can carry a penalty of two to six years.
As to why the penalty for adultery is heavier, it is argued that an illicit affair between a wife and her paramour could result in an illegitimate child who would become the unknowing husband’s spurious heir.
Annoying people can be charged for being merely annoying.
Second paragraph of Article 287 states that “any other coercions or unjust vexations shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 pesos to 200 pesos, or both.”
Both legal experts and laymen have condemned unjust vexation as an ambiguous catch-all provision with no specific meaning, merely something to charge annoying people with.
The State will do its darndest to get a couple to stay married.
Ever wonder why, Catholic culture notwithstanding, it’s so hard for couples to get away from loveless or hopeless marriages in the Philippines?
It is because the State is mandated to do so according to Section 2, Article XV of the 1987 Constitution which states that “marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.”
A landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1997 upheld this provision when it stated that “any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.” In the very same case, the high court also ordered inferior courts to require the appearance of a fiscal and an agent from the Solicitor General’s office as a counsel to represent the State during annulment hearings and write whether he/she approves of the annulment or not.
In other words, the State will always be the third party in any marriage between individuals.
We still dole out excessive penalties for libel.
Perhaps no other law of late has garnered as much controversy as Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Law, specifically the part where it punishes libel. The corresponding penalties can be found in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code. Critics have called it an archaic and outdated provision dating back to the Spanish era where honor was highly prized and duels were often common.
Nowadays it’s being abused by government officials as a shield against criticisms. Even the United Nations Human Rights Council declared the penalties as “excessive”; and while there are moves to decriminalize libel, we may have to wait quite a while before it becomes a thing of the past.
You can “legally” kill people.
Under Article 247 of the Revised Code, “Any legally married person who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.”
Likewise, the article also applies to parents “with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents.”
The expected overwhelming outrage and the need to vindicate one’s honor would form the rationale of why killing is allowed under these circumstances. On the other hand, destierro or mere banishment of the killer would be to prevent the deceased’s family from retaliating against him.
There’s criminal discrimination.
In 2009, Representative Luis Villafuerte Sr. of Camarines Sur’s third district filed House Bill No. 1641, “An Act to Increase the Penalty for Theft or Robbery Committed Within the Premises of Churches, Temples and Museums.” It was approved by the House on September 9 2009 and received by the Senate on September 15.
But why not just increase the penalty for robbers in general?
If you’re a foreigner who suffers from epilepsy, you are illegible to enter the country.
The government has been heavily criticized for having un-updated immigration laws from the (Commonwealth Act No. 613, The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940). For example, an alien is barred from entry into the Philippines if he or she: are idiots or insane, or are suspected to be, have epilepsy, prostitutes, beggars, and people who believe in or practice polygamy.
A bill is reportedly being pushed to update this antique immigration law.
You can go to jail for being topless in San Juan.
If you’re a man in a country as hot as the Philippines, sometimes going topless is imperative. But apparently, in San Juan (and soon in other parts of the Metro), if you’re caught topless or wearing very short shorts, you can be fined with ₱300 or 8 hours of community service. For the first offense, a violator will be given a warning. For the second offense, they will be fined ₱300 or ordered to render eight hours of community service, and for the third offense, they could serve from three to five days in jail.
The ordinance applies to everybody, including babies. Although Section 2 refers only to people who go out in public without any upper clothing, Section 3 defines “half-naked” as either topless or bottomless, specifically, “wearing clothing covering only the lowermost or uppermost portion of the body with the absence of any top or bottom apparel.”
The ordinance was drafted and approved in line with a 2003 resolution from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which urged local governments to enact an ordinance on dress code in public places.
The Anti-Pana Law
Pana, when translated, means “Arrow”. So yes, you cannot own a deadly pana, at least not without a permit.
Republic Act No. 3553 states, “anyone who possesses a deadly arrow or ‘pana’ without permit from a city, municipal, or municipal district mayor, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than thirty days nor more than six months.”
We salute the people in the Congress because creating laws is no joke. However, we would like to remind our law-makers that there are more pressing issues at hand which need to be addressed, for the sake of peace and order in the country. As we all say, ‘change is coming’. Hence, changing and updating some of these laws wouldn’t hurt so much, right?