A landmark bill that seeks to ban child marriage in the Philippines is now officially a law, now known as Republic Act 11596, according to its author and sponsor, House Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera.
“I was able to confirm in Malacañang that the End Child Marriage Bill, which we fought for and championed in Congress for many years, has now been signed into law,” a jubilant Herrera said.
She added: “This is a major victory in our campaign to end child marriage in the Philippines. This law will help protect children, especially young girls, and hopefully change the trajectory of their lives.”
The enrolled copy of the proposed Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage was transmitted to Malacañang in November 2021 upon ratification by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Herrera, who authored and co-sponsored the measure, was also part of the bicameral conference committee that worked for a consensus on the House and Senate versions of the measure against child marriage.
Herrera expressed his gratitude to President Duterte for signing it into a law.
“Thank you PRRD for giving a chance to this law,” the party-list lawmaker said.
Herrera said the time has come for the Philippines to end the “longstanding disturbing practice” of child marriage.
Child marriage, she said, is a form of violence against children.
“This new law is a big step towards ensuring that the children’s rights will be upheld and their well-being and future secured,” Herrera said.
The legislation seeks to prohibit and declare child marriage as illegal and to impose penalties against violators.
Under the law, the solemnization of child marriage and cohabitation of an adult with a child outside wedlock are considered unlawful acts.
A fine of at least P40,000 and jail term of up to 12 years await solemnizing officers, parents, guardians, or adults who fixed, facilitated, or arranged child marriage.