THE Baguio City Council approved a resolution strongly supporting Senate Bill 1373, or the proposed "Girls Not Brides Act."
On the move of Councilor Mylen Yaranon, the council welcomed the approval of the "Girls Not Brides" Act.
"We strongly support this move to uplift and protect the rights of children, especially girls, against acts that are contrary to their free will and dignity," the council said in unison.
The resolution said child marriages are an affront to the constitutionally and internationally recognized rights of children as such practice undermines their rights to education, health, and autonomy.
Under our laws, children are held to incapable of freely giving their consent; the latter being an essential requisite of a valid marriage. Absent this, the marriage is void.
"The City of Baguio has adopted a policy of advancing public health, welfare, and livelihood augmenting programs for the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of society; such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, our women, youth and children, and others deprived of growth opportunities," Yaranon added.
Citing Senator Riza Hontiveros's statement that the issue of child, early and forced marriages is one that is largely invisible to us here in Metro Manila, but it is a tragic reality for scores of young girls who are forced by economic circumstances and cultural expectations to shelve their own dreams, begin families they are not ready for, and raise children even when their own childhoods have not yet ended.
"By supporting the approval of the Girls Not Brides Act, the City Government of Baguio stands in defense of the dignity of every girl's inherent right to decide for themselves when they want to get married and have a family of their own, and not to be shackled by any antiquated social, economic, or traditional norm," Yaranon added.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child and the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act to "recognize, respect, protect, fulfill, and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children, especially the girls, in the economic, social, political, cultural, and other fields."
The Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1373 or the Girls Not Brides Act aiming to declare child marriages and marriages between a minor and an adult illegal.