MANILA (UPDATE) - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday expressed concern over a bill being pushed in Congress legalizing virtual nuptials, saying this could spawn fake weddings.
“It’s going to pose a lot of risks also, kapag halimbawang matuloy 'yan, baka makakuha tayo ng mga kasal na hao shao, lalo natin dito guguluhin ang sanctity ng pamilya,” Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive director of the CBCP Public Affairs Committee said.
(It’s going to pose a lot of risks also. If allowed, we may see a lot of hao shao [fake] weddings which could mess up the sanctity of the family.)
The move to amend the Family Code to recognize virtual weddings is contained in House Bill No. 7042 introduced by Rep. Ron Salo last year.
“Naiintindihan ko kung bakit nagkaroon ng ganyang bill dahil nga restricted 'yung mga pumapasok ng simbahan. Pero hindi dapat sa ganyang kadahilanan ay baguhin natin 'yung batas,” said Secillano in an interview on TeleRadyo.
(I understand why a bill like that was introduced because of the restrictions on those who can enter the church. But that should not be the reason why they want to change the law.)
He believes that the bill would become moot and academic once the pandemic situation improves and more people are allowed in churches.
“Kaya instead of being very practical about responding to a particular situation, nagi-evolve ang situation so sabi ko nga magiging moot and academic 'yung bill na yan kaya mas maganda na yung kongreso wag na nilang talakayin kasi hindi naman ito pang habangbuhay na pandemya” he said.
(Instead of being practical about responding to a particular situation, the situation is evolving and as I’ve said the bill would become moot and academic so it’s better if Congress does not tackle this anymore because this pandemic is not forever.)
He said in Church weddings, they protect the sanctity and dignity of the Sacrament. They also only want to ascertain that couples freely give their consent to be married just like in civil weddings
“Ito ay pinoprotektahan ng batas kaya 'yung batas ngayon na meron tayo nire-require nila na andoon talaga in the presence of the solemnizing officer 'yung couple. 'Yun ang reason doon na makita mo, ma-ascertain mo na everything is really in order and that the consent that should be given is a free consent,” he said
(This is what the law protects and that’s why the law requires the couple must be in the presence of the solemnizing officer. The reason behind that is to ascertain that everything is in order and that the consent that should be given is a free consent.)
Family law expert disagrees
But a family law expert said virtual weddings should be legalized in the country to give more leeway to couples and judges who wish to stay indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"'Yung mga judge, they cannot close their offices completely kasi ang mga kasal nandun," she said.
(The judges, they cannot close their offices completely because the weddings are held there.)
"Ang mga hearings, puwede sa Zoom. 'Yung kasal, kailangan physical presence," she said.
(Hearings can be held via Zoom. But physical presence is required for weddings.)
During a House hearing on the proposal, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) raised that officiators of the wedding may not be able to see whether the bride or the groom were being "forced" to attend the ceremony if nuptials were held virtually.
"The concept of forced in a wedding it's there whether you are physically present or not," Legarda said.
Lawmakers are planning to invite Church and other religious group leaders in the next hearing to get their opinion on legalizing online weddings, she said.