On Pride Month, several SC justice hopefuls say they reject same-sex marriage

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2019 04:07 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2019 05:06 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Several nominees to the Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed objection to legalizing same-sex marriage in the Philippines amid the celebration of Pride Month. 

The justices were quizzed on the petition filed by lawyer Jesus Falcis filed before the high court in 2015, which sought to allow same-sex marriage. The plea remains pending. 

Bureau of Internal Revenue deputy commissioner Lanee Cui-David, who is vying for an associate justice post in the high tribunal, said she "would not allow" same-sex marriage.

Asked if she agrees with the fact that other countries allow same-sex unions, she said the high court has to study the proposal first before upholding it.

But as a "very religious person," she said she would oppose it.

That was also the case for four other SC justice hopefuls quizzed on the matter Tuesday afternoon during their public interviews with the Judicial and Bar Council. 

Among the nominees who rejected the measure were Court of Appeals Associate Justices Apolinario Bruselas Jr., Manuel Barrios and Oscar Badelles, and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.

Only nominee Associate Justice Ramon Bato of the appellate court agreed with legalizing same-sex marriage. 

Bruselas said unless science would "allow production of offspring between same-sex couples," he would reject the proposal. 

He cited a provision in the Family Code of the Philippines, which says marriage involves the union between a man and a woman. 

"The end of marriage is the production of offspring. So if you have same-sex marriage, unless science has intervened and it would allow production of offspring in the same sex. But until now it's not yet possible," he explained. 

Cabotaje-Tang and Badelles echoed Bruselas, saying the proposal could not be allowed with how the constitution defines family.

"As constructed right now our constitution does not have anything about the same sex marriage. And a family traditionally is understood to be a union between a man and a woman," Badelles said. 

CA Justice Ramon Cruz, also one of the nominees, cited the equal protection clause in opposing the proposal.

"If we will go by the legal and historical landscape, who would [have] ever thought that women would be allowed to vote compared to some 50 or 60 years ago? Who ever thought that indigenous people would be given right to govern their land?"

"In marriage, strangers become relatives and... families bind with the society and that counts within same-sex, but I am not saying that in this time, I am in favor of it," he added. 

While Badelles said he does not agree, he expressed openness to the measure in the future, echoing Cruz's sentiments on the changes that may happen over time. 

Barrios, meanwhile, claimed that having same-sex marriage may have adverse effects on the population. The Philippines has seen a steadily growing population over the years. 

"In the constitution it is stated there that a family is the basic unit of society. When you say family, you talk of a husband and a wife, a father and a mother, and the offspring. Without this basic unit how can our population grow? How can we maintain continuous growth of population? As you know population decreases because those in old age pass away," Barrios said. 

Only Bato favored the measure, citing that the constitution says no person can be deprived of their liberties, including same-sex marriage. 

Bato cited Section 1 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution, which says: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws." 

"By denying homosexuals the right to choose their partners, you are discriminating them because it would violate equal protection," he explained. 

"In the pursuit of happiness, they should be allowed to choose their partners." 

Last week, another SC nominee, international law expert Jeremy Benigno Gatdula, expressed his objection to legalizing same-sex marriage in the Philippines.

The nominees are among 24 lawyers and judges vying to replace Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, who is expected to retire on July 29.

Falcis' pending plea seeks to declare unconstitutional provisions in the Philippines' Family Code which "define and limit marriage as between man and woman."

While some Western countries have taken the move to legalize same-sex marriage, Taiwan has been the only country in Asia to pass the measure nationwide.