MANILA - Associate Justice Teresita De Castro on Tuesday said that should the Supreme Court allow same-sex marriage, there is no law that would guide courts to interpret and decide cases on same-sex couples.
"The point that I’m raising is that if we just simply say that we should allow the marriage between persons of the same sex, there are so many provisions scattered in our law books which will require interpretation and this can only be done if there is a comprehensive law enacted by Congress that will address each of these issues. Like for instance, the ground for legal separation," De Castro said during oral arguments on legalizing same-sex marriage.
"If they come to court and there’s no law to guide the judges, how will the judges decide specific cases before their courts involving the relationships between parties of the same-sex marriage if we do not have a law? A law that will define each of the possible issues that may arise."
Lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III, who filed the petition, said "difficulties or grey areas in the law is not a reason for courts to not make a decision."
"We sincerely see the difficulties that may be encountered if this petition is granted. However, our first submission is that when it comes to fundamental rights, when there are other issues that the court must face, the court focuses first on the fundamental right and whether the denial or deprivation is proper regardless of other consequences that might flow from upholding that fundamental right," he said.
"The civil code itself states that difficulties or grey areas in the law is not a reason for courts to not make a decision and we are of the second submission that there is a law that could and would guide judges, and that is the Constitution. Even under the Family Code, when there’s a dispute between a man and a woman, the recourse is to go to the court and let the judge decide based on legal and other considerations."
De Castro also asked Falcis on his opinion regarding same-sex couples undergoing civil union instead of marriage.
"What is your opinion about an alternative to marriage which is a civil union that will also be provided for by law?" De Castro said.
Falcis answered: "We submit that marriage might be a religious term but it is also a legal term. That is the only area we are trying to argue before this honorable court, that we be given the same term because we are also Filipino, taxpayers and to have civil unions with the same content as marriage would be to make us second-class citizens because the state called it by a different name."
The landmark case opened legal discussion on what is considered taboo in Asia's bastion of Catholicism and coincides with the LGBT community's celebration of Pride Month.
Falcis named the Civil Registrar General, the body tasked to issue marriage licenses, as a respondent in the case.
The lawyer, who has identified himself in the pleading as "an open and self-identified homosexual,” sought to declare parts of the Family Code unconstitutional, saying these violate homosexuals' right "to found a family" as protected under the 1987 Constitution.