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Biazon proposes mandatory counseling
before marriage

December 10, 2004

MANILA (PNA) - Marriage, as recognized in the Constitution, shall be protected and strengthened as the family is the basic autonomous institution.

But several factors are threatening the sanctity of marriage, including teenage pregnancy, living together sans a civil or church rites, adultery and concubinage.

Married couples also have the option of petitioning for legal separation or annulment while there are calls to legalize divorce in the country.

"There has been a decline in the practice of traditional Filipino values and the lack of preparedness in entering into a supposedly lifetime partnership," noted Sen. Rodolfo Biazon.

While the administration solon respects the choices of Filipinos, he found it necessary to file Senate Bill No. 1669, the Mandatory Marriage Counseling Act, to educate soon-to-be married couples in the rigors of marriage and how to cope with the challenges that they will face for the rest of their lives.

"An ounce of prevention is worth more than an ounce of cure," Biazon said.

Currently, married couples are required to undergo seminars conducted by the church where they intend to exchange "I do's."

The present laws only prescribe marriage counseling in cases where parental consent or advice is needed.

Under Biazon's bill, parties seeking the issuance of a marriage license shall attach a certificate that the contracting parties have undergone counseling.

The certificate shall be issued by a priest, imam or minister authorized to solemnize marriage or a marriage counselor duly accredited by the proper government agency.

If a couple fails to attach said certificate, their marriage license would not be released until after three months.

If the issuing officer releases the license before the three-month period has lapsed, he will be subject to administrative sanctions but the marriage remains valid.

Biazon added that he is against any law that would legalize divorce because "it will not improve the situation regarding marriage."

"It could even make marriages fragile and prone to further deterioration because of the availability of an escape clause," he said. "Divorce provides an open door that can be used anytime one of the partners feels like doing so."


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