Seares: Excuse for adultery: being a Muslim

AFTER supporting House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s defense that there’s no lawyer or legislator who doesn’t have a mistress, President Duterte comes up with the Muslim gambit.

Duterte’s latest theory is that ally and friend Alvarez is a Muslim and thus “can have as many wives as he can support.” So whats one “querida” in addition to the wife?

Is he Muslim?

One doubts if Alvarez is a Muslim. His grandfather is Chinese and his mother is Muslim, Duterte said. But has the speaker considered himself and behaved as a Muslim just because he’s not a Catholic? We doubt if he ever proclaimed himself a Muslim, except maybe to woo votes in Muslim areas in Davao City.

More relevant would be how his two lawful marriages were celebrated. Lawyer-writer Katrina Legarda, in a May 20, 2009 post, citing Supreme Court decisions, said a person married under the Civil or Family Code cannot invoke sharia law.

Unless Alvarez’s marriages were celebrated under Muslim law, he’s not covered by Presidential Decree #1083 (Code of Muslim Personal Laws), which allows multiple spouses.

He would have to seek declaration of the nullity of his marriage to Emilia Alvarez before he could flaunt his love affair with his mistress. And our codes, civil and penal, apply to him.

Revving up debate

But then, again, maybe Duterte was just yanking people’s chain, living up to his role of being irreverent, if not contemptuous, of traditions and institutions.

Sensing the public’s interest in the issue, which he can enlighten with his vast experience in womanizing, the president stokes the fire, instead of putting it out. Too interesting to drop.

The exercise of publicly defending Alvarez’s conduct is not helping the issue’s end. Instead, it revs up the debate on infidelity of public officials.

Which sets off the talk about abusive spouses and divorce. Which makes many people wonder what examples our leaders give the nation.

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