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Duterte backs same-sex union but opposes same-sex marriage

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MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte is in favor of same-sex civil union, even as the Supreme Court tackles the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte favors same-sex civil union since it will allow same-sex couples to get the same benefits accorded to heterosexual couples.


“Kung same-sex marriage, pati si presidente tutol. Pero ang (same-sex) union, pabor dyan si presidente para maayos ang ibat ibang aspeto ng pagsamama ng magka-parehong kasarinlan,” Roque said in a press briefing in Maasin, Southern Leyte.

“Even the President is part of the majority in opposing the same sex marriage,” Roque said reporters in a press briefing. 


The Catholic Church has long opposed same-sex marriage in the Philippines, the bastion of Catholicism in Asia, where roughly 80 percent of its 100 million people subscribe to the faith.


“Now, I don’t think the current challenge in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of Article 1 of the Family Code, defining a marriage as between a man and a woman will actually succeed on the basis of the oral arguments conducted,” Roque, inciting the proposed House Bill 6595 or Civil Partnership Act.


“I have a strong feeling that this bill will not pass the Supreme Court. But I could be wrong,” Roque said.


Roque gave this statement in reaction to a Social Weather Stations survey stating that at least 61 percent of Filipinos said they would oppose a bill that would legalize same-sex “civil union” in the country.


 House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez sponsored a bill allowing same-sex civil union in the country.


Proponents of same-sex civil union, including Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, said they opted not to call the process a “marriage” because it has religious connotations which will certainly earn the ire of religious institutions and conservatives.


During the oral arguments at the high court on same-sex marriage, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said same-sex civil union is constitutional, as it is based on the constitutional right to freedom of association.


Carpio noted the Constitution allows two people of the same sex to enter into an agreement regarding property.


Lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III, who described himself in the pleading as “an open and self-identified homosexual,” is urging the high court to declare as unconstitutional Articles 1 and 2 of Executive Order (EO) No. 209, the Family Code of the Philippines, which “define and limit marriage as between man and woman.”


Falcis argued that the assailed provisions in EO No. 209 violate homosexuals’ right “to found a family” as protected under Section 3 (1) of the 1987 Constitution.


He also said these provisions “deprive [him] and other homosexuals the right to liberty without substantive due process of law” and “deny them the equal protection of the laws.”


He further argued that the subject provisions cause lesbian and gay Filipinos to be “relegated to 2nd class citizens.”


Roque said based on the developments in the oral arguments at the high court, the petition will be dismissed.

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