17 October 2013

Can Freddie Aguilar Marry a 16-Year Old?

Freddie Aguilar
When Freddie Aguilar announced during the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Star Awards for Music that he is currently dating a 16-year old girl and is open to marrying her, netizens flooded public forums with questions ranging from being comical to legal. The topic is even trending in one local social network for hours now.

According to the 60-year old Aguilar, he didn't know the woman's age when he started courting her. "Nung malaman ko, sabi ko, 'Andun na, eh. Ano pa ang magagawa ko?' Aatras ka ba noon, eh na-in love na?" he said.

Asked how his girlfriend's parents reacted about their 44-year age gap relationship, Aguilar said, "Tanggap na rin siguro. Sabi lang daw sa kanya, 'Mag-ingat ka diyan, babaero daw 'yan!'"

"Mag-iingat ako, kasi kung may magrereklamo, alam mo na, baka may magkatuwaan. Pero 'yung consent ng mga magulang, nasa akin," the veteran singer added.

In the Philippines, any individual at or above the age of 18 may contract marriage in accordance with the law. A marriage between individuals aged 18–21 who have never been married requires written parental consent; without such consent it may be annulled. On the other hand, individuals aged 21–25 intending to marry are legally obligated to seek parental advice.

The Mandatory Marriage Counseling Act also requires both parties involved in a marriage requiring parental consent must undergo marriage counseling. In the absence of these prerequisites, the issuance of the marriage license is suspended for three months. No marriage license is required for the marriage between a man and a woman who lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and who have no legal impediment to marry each other.

The Revised Penal Code likewise criminalizes sexual relations with girls over age 12 and under 18. More specifically, it prescribes punishments for “qualified seduction,” which is defined as a public authority figure or any person entrusted with the custody or the education of the victim inducing a female virgin between 12 and 18 years of age into having sexual intercourse.

The crime is punishable by imprisonment of 6–50 months, or by imprisonment of 6–10 years if the victim is below 12 years of age. The code defines “simple seduction” as sexual intercourse obtained by means of deceit with a “single woman or a widow of good reputation” aged 12–18, which is punishable with a prison term of one to six months.

The Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (1992) specifically addresses child prostitution, and prescribes prison terms of 15–40 years for individuals who engage in, promote, facilitate, or induce child prostitution; have sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; or derive profits or advantages from child prostitution.

Attempted involvement in child prostitution, whether as a procurer or a client, is subject to imprisonment of 6–12 years. The act prescribes longer terms of imprisonment if the child prostitute is under 12 years of age.