Last weekend, the Baguio City Metropolitan Christian Church (MCC) performed a mass same-sex wedding. Eight gay and lesbian couples were united in the ceremony.

Roman Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani and other religious leaders condemned it as immoral.

Later this evening(Philippine time), a friend sent me a private message saying that a lawyer close to me was on TV discussing the illegality (and immorality) of the marriage ceremony. Hence, I am compelled to write this fast note in the hope I can help clarify what appears to be a state of legal confusion. I am not going to wade into the waters of morality or immorality regarding this issue. Since the morality/immorality debate is flooding, I will limit my comments to the legal dimension as raised in online discussions.

Was the same-sex marriage ceremony illegal?

First, it must be understood that the mass same-sex wedding ceremony was celebrated outside the framework of the Family Code of the Philippines. To my knowledge- and please correct me if I am wrong - the Metropolitan Church which performed the ceremony did not misrepresent that the unions are valid under the law. The couples were fully cognizant that the ceremony had no legal value. They did not even apply for marriage licenses before any civil registry. One might be compelled to ask: Why go through the ceremony then? They wanted to have their union recognized at least by their community in a ceremony that the whole world may repudiate but which at least their community respects. It is pretty much like wedding ceremonies performed by indigenous peoples according to customary laws which in some parts of the world are not legally recognized but which are respected by their respective communities.

It should not also be overlooked that the non-recognition under the law of same-sex unions was precisely a driving force in the holding of such ceremony. It is in itself political speech which is cloistered within the protective mantle of the Bill of Rights. The LGBTQI community feels that it is discriminated against as its members are denied the right to marry on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or non-identity and the like. Whether or not you and I agree to their strategy is a distinct issue altogether. The point is any person who feels that he/she has been deprived of his/her entitlements (OK, rights!) is free under our law to act accordingly within the bounds of law.

It is argued that the church and its members who were parties to the mass same-sex union ceremony violated Articles 350 and 352 of the Revised.

At the onset, it must be borne in mind that Art. 350 and Art. 352 refer to crimes of intent.

This is what Art. 350 of the Revised Penal Code has to say: "Art. 350. Marriage contracted against provisions of laws. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon any person who, without being included in the provisions of the next preceding article, shall have not been complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal impediment.

If either of the contracting parties shall obtain the consent of the other by means of violence, intimidation or fraud, he shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty provided in the next preceding paragraph."

What does Art. 350 pertain to? It pertains to parties to a marriage where the parties do not comply with requisites of the law. At least, this marriage purports to have been celebrated within the framework of the Family Code of the Philippines with the parties to the union or one of them believing that it bears the stamp of legal validity. At the risk of sounding repetitious, the parties to the mass same-sex wedding tagged illegal were under no illusion – none at all- that their marriage is recognized under the Family Code, and they have no intention whatsoever to present themselves as married couples under the said law.

How about Art. 352? Art. 352. Performance of illegal marriage ceremony. — Priests or ministers of any religious denomination or sect, or civil authorities who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Law." To be liable under this provision, the solemnizing officer has or pretends to have an authority to solemnize same-sex marriage under the law. Such is not obtaining in the case of the mass same-sex wedding. The pastors did not (mis)represent themselves as licensed to officiate same-sex marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.

This is the most I could assemble in a short span of time. I hope that I did not contribute to the confusion. :-)



By Luis Teodoro in Business World

He’s been dead for 22 years, having died in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sept. 28, 1989, at the age of 72, but Ferdinand Marcos haunts us still. The most recent manifestation of the ghost of atrocities past came in the form of his children’s pushing a resolution in the House of Representatives, with former Marcos acolyte Congressman Salvador Escudero as pointman, asking the Aquino III administration to allow the burial of the Marcos corpse in Manila’s Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

The apparently well-orchestrated campaign provoked a three-month-long debate, one of the wonders of it being that there should have been a debate at all, and the other that of the hero’s burial for Marcos being supported by Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

A human rights lawyer in a previous life, Binay had been asked by President Benigno Aquino III, who declared that he was "too biased" to decide it objectively, to help him (temporarily) settle the issue. In his most recent reincarnation, however, Binay is more a likely presidential candidate in 2016 than anything else.

Given not only the Marcos name’s continuing popularity in certain northern Luzon provinces, but also the infinite possibilities the family’s vast wealth offers, Binay’s support for his burial at the Libingan wasn’t too surprising after all, except insofar as it indicated how much ambition can drive that creature known as the Filipino politico into making deals with anyone, including the devil himself.

As far as principles rather than expediency’s concerned, however, at the heart of the debate was disagreement over the definition of "hero" and what exactly Marcos did in his near-lifetime reign as President to this country and its people.

Marvel Comics and pop culture equates heroism with personal courage. But that’s only as far as the comics are concerned. Personal courage may have something to do with heroism, but even more importantly involves the capacity to transcend the self and even to die in the service of country and nation.

Assuming the sincerity, untarnished by self interest, of his and his family’s supporters, their argument that Marcos was indeed a hero seems to be based on Marcos’s supposed World War II record, even more specifically his accumulation of 32 medals from both the Philippine and US governments. Unfortunately for his partisans, Marcos’s ever getting those medals has been debunked often, by, among others, former Congressman Bonifacio Gillego, who published his findings that the medals were bogus during the martial law period in We Forum, for which act the newspaper was shut down for "subversion."

Marcos’s medals, however, are less at issue than the way he governed this country. If heroism is more than courage, but even more importantly consists of acting in behalf of others, and as a form of unselfishness that transcends self-interest, then Marcos is no hero. His acts as President were hardly unselfish, and on the contrary focused on remaining in power and on self-aggrandizement. In behalf of that intent he placed the country under martial rule, unleashed the military on the citizenry, over a hundred thousand of whom were illegally arrested and detained, of which over 10,000 were tortured, with hundreds summarily executed and forcibly disappeared.

Among the consequences of the Marcos despotism is the military’s transformation into a major political player whose allegiance is until now crucial to the survival of governments. It has also become a power unto itself, as well as a vast center of corruption and lawlessness.

If these were Marcos’s only offenses they would suffice to consign his corpse to some other place than a heroes’ cemetery. But there was more, among them the rapid impoverishment of the country, the world-class corruption and theft of the country’s resources and treasury, the murder of its best and brightest sons and daughters, the country’s descent into chaos, violence, and barbarism.

Thankfully Mr. Aquino III has rejected the Binay recommendation. It would have been more than ironic if he had not, his father having been not only among the many victims of Marcos’s unbridled lust for pelf and power, but also an authentic hero for giving his life to the anti-Marcos resistance. If hero Ninoy Aquino truly was, how can his adversary be a hero as well?

That the question doesn’t seem to have been asked is a failure of both logic as well as knowledge. But the latter failure is rooted in an even greater error: the absence of closure on the Marcos and martial law period through a national, mass understanding of what happened during those terrible years.

It’s been said before, but deserves restating. The failure -- the refusal and fear -- of the governments that succeeded Marcos’s to put together an authentic truth commission that would provide the country an authoritative and documented account of the events, the root causes, the number of dead, disappeared, and tortured, and the people responsible for the martial law period, as well as an authoritative evaluation of it -- these have prevented closure to that period. That failure continues to provoke the most meaningless debates on Marcos and the martial law period as well as the most ignorant claims, among them -- as if there were something heroic in construction and in pretending to be a war hero -- the suggestion that Marcos was a hero because of his 32 medals and his having built roads and bridges.

In South Africa and Chile and in those other countries that lived through and survived the dictatorships the United States put in place in Latin America in the 1970s, truth commissions have established what really happened. They have identified as people’s heroes those who fought back, and the villains those who murdered and tortured in behalf of the greed for wealth and power of local and imperial interests.

By making the truth about authoritarian rule available, these commissions have enabled their peoples to achieve closure and to move on. Neither closure nor moving on has been possible in the Philippines as far as the martial law period is concerned because there is no single, independent, and authoritative account of what happened, why it happened, who suffered for it, and who were responsible. That is why the ghosts of Marcos and of that most terrible time in modern Philippine history so identified with him haunt us still. #


Reluctant Departure
(for Y and S)

by Cheryl L. Daytec

for the last time I reconnoiter the hotel lobby
someone takes our picture in front of the ficus
now taller than it was one calendar ago
with recalcitrance, we draggle the weight
of three hundred forty-one days of my life…
fifty kilograms cramped in two black suitcases-
assorted books, clothes and overused shoes

two laptops, a camera, even a cheap trinket
her thin silver spoon we shared for months
digging through ice cream or a bowl of cereals
as we dissected the body of truths and lies
about Darfur, Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Bosnia
the unheard wails of the Roma and my people
always, the rhetoric of justice was gripping

oh, yes, she graciously bestowed on me
a brown teapot- a legacy from her mother
it now travels to where my fate takes me

suppressing tears, we sit across each other
in the almost empty airport coffee shop
absently, she stirs her hot chocolate
my camera seizes her struggle to smile
and then I go after a lingering hug and a kiss..
as I brace to be frisked for security check
I look beyond the long queue behind me

among strangers she stands in her blue shirt
brandishing her sorrow with a slow hand
I wave back… then abruptly, I turn away
as the corners of my mouth curve downward
a woman runs a detector through my body
does it descry the deep twinge in my chest?
I rush to the departure lounge where I weep

I weep even more when she calls my mobile
voice cracking, she says she did not divine pain
oh…the best words have been uttered last
when time and distance are now our enemies.