President Rodrigo Duterte once again came to the defense of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez over the latter’s issue of extramarital affairs, saying that this should not be an issue because the Speaker is not a Catholic.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Metro Manila Crisis Monitoring and Management Center on April 4, Duterte said that Alvarez did not convert to Christianity and is like him who is of Chinese-Muslim descent.
“That should be a non-issue actually. And do you know kung alam ba ninyo, Speaker Alvarez is not a Catholic. He’s just like me, his grandfather Chinese. Ang nanay niya Kalagan, Muslim… Ganoon kami. Kaya maski magsabi ‘yang Bebot na ‘yan, marunong ‘yan. Sabi niya, lima, apat na. Walang tayong magagawa. He never converted to Christianity. So he is not bound by the rules of the number of women that you can have. All you have to say is that… I my… An atheist… But if you are an atheist, so? You can have as much as you want as long as you’re able to… The thing there is that you’re able to support the children,” Duterte said.
You can watch this part of his speech in the video below from 18:53 to 20:50:
However, after some fact-checking, Vera Files said that regardless of Filipino men’s religious beliefs, they are required by Philippine laws to stay committed to their wives.
Vera Files pointed out the fact that concubinage qualifies as a crime against chastity under the Revised Penal Code, which states that “any husband who shall keep a mistress in conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place” will be sent to prison.
Alvarez even faced the threat of being disbarred after he admitted to being involved in extramarital affairs and siring six children out of wedlock.
The Supreme Court has disbarred lawyers for gross immorality. Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office for deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, or grossly immoral conduct, such as being involved in an extramarital affair.
Even Muslims have to observe a separate code for multiple marriages.
Presidential Decree No. 1083 (Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines) acknowledges a Muslim man’s right to have more than one wife, but only if he can give them equal companionship and treatment, as required by Islamic Law.
A Muslim man who wants to marry another woman is required to file a written notice with the Shari’a Circuit Court in his area. The court will then provide his wife/wives with a copy of the notice. If there is any objection, an Agama Arbitration Council will be formed until all the wives’ consent is obtained. If no consent is provided, it will be up to the court to sustain the objection or not.
So unlike Duterte’s defense of Alvarez that the latter can have as many women as he wants because he is not Catholic anyway, Philippine laws do not allow married men, regardless of religion, to engage in extramarital affairs. Even Muslim men who want to take more than one wife have to ask for consent from his wife/wives first before going ahead with another marriage. Being a non-Catholic is not an excuse to start having affairs.
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