5 July 2016
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today reviewed the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of the Philippines on how it implemented the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Introducing the report, Cecilia Rebong, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that a particular milestone in women’s empowerment was the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women in 2009, which applied the provisions of the Convention in the country, specifically addressed the rights of marginalized women, and defined direct and indirect discrimination. Violence against women was addressed in a whole-of-government approach through inter-agency mechanisms such as the Council on Anti-violence against Women and their Children, the Council against Trafficking and the Council against Child Pornography. The 2012 Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law required the provision of reproductive health care services to all citizens, with the priority given to women, the poor, the marginalized and those in vulnerable or crisis situations. The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 had provided more strict penalties for traffickers and more protection for victims, with the strengthened Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking leading efforts to improve prevention, law enforcement, prosecution, protection, recovery and reintegration of victims.
Committee Experts commended the Philippines for the adoption of temporary special measures to advance the situation of women, and the impressive list of laws which aimed to increase the participation and representation of women in various walks of life. They welcomed the adoption of the Magna Carta of Women and inquired about the impact that this law had had on the repeal of discriminatory laws and provisions, particularly with regard to women with disabilities, indigenous women and Muslim women. Those women also experienced significant obstacles in accessing justice and health services, remarked Experts and asked about the measures to address stereotypical and patriarchal attitudes which were still quite entrenched in the society.
The Magna Carta of Women recognized violence against women as a priority issue, but what was still not in place was a comprehensive law which would address all forms of violence against women committed in all settings, including in conflict and disaster situations, and which would also specifically address violence against women with disabilities, indigenous women, and women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. Experts were also concerned that the heavy militarization of the mining projects posed a serious threat to indigenous people, especially indigenous women human rights defenders, and asked about the measures in place to mitigate the negative impact of large-scale mining and extractive industry projects on the rights of indigenous communities and the steps to implement the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Rebong assured the Committee that the Philippines was fully committed to the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The delegation of the Philippines included representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, National Economic and Development Authority, Philippine Commission on Women, Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women, National Commission for Indigenous People, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Commission on Higher Education, Philippine Representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The country reviews can be watched via live webcast at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org.
The Committee will reconvene in public on Thursday, 7 July, at 10 a.m., to consider the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Myanmar (CEDAW/C/MMR/4-5).
The seventh and eighth periodic reports of the Philippines CEDAW/C/PHL/7-8 can be read here.
Presentation of the Report
CECILIA REBONG, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation of the Philippines came to learn from the expertise of the Committee, trusting that this dialogue would move the country forward in its sincere efforts to promote, protect and fulfil the rights and freedoms of all Filipina women. The Philippines was pleased to be ranked seventh out of 145 countries for gender equality by the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, which was the highest in the Asia-Pacific Region. This progress had been achieved by the six years of the social contract with former President Aquino, during which women’s empowerment had become more multi-faceted than ever. Women played a plethora of roles in the society, both in the Government and in the private sector: they headed the Supreme Court, the Ombudsman, the Peace Process Office, Labour and Employment, Justice, Internal Revenue, and other offices, while many other institutions, including local legislative bodies, required women’s participation. A particular milestone was the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women in 2009, which applied the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the country, and specified the rights of marginalized women; it included a definition of discrimination – direct and indirect, and established an institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of the Convention. The Women’s Empowerment, Development and Gender Equality Plan 2013-2016 had been adopted to ensure the mainstreaming of the Magna Carta of Women into the State’s policies and programmes. The Plan also addressed the concerns of women in vulnerable situations, such as indigenous and Muslim women, rural women, women in detention and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women. Violence against women was addressed in a whole-of-government approach through inter-agency mechanisms such as the Council on Anti-violence against Women and their Children, the Council against Trafficking and the Council against Child Pornography.
The 2012 Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law required the provision of reproductive health care services to all citizens, with priority given to women, the poor, the marginalized and those in vulnerable or crisis situations. The passage of the Domestic Workers’ Law, or the so-called Kasambahay Law, and the repeal of night-work prohibition for women had provided better work opportunities and social protection for women workers. The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 had provided more strict penalties for traffickers and more protection for victims, with the strengthened Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking leading efforts to improve prevention, law enforcement, prosecution, protection, recovery and reintegration of victims. The country’s commitment to sustaining transparent, accountable and responsive anti-trafficking initiatives in the country and overseas, had earned it an upgrade to Tier 1 countries by the United States Department of State Global TIP report, which was the highest rank a country might receive under the United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The Philippines also played a leading role on trafficking issues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region, including in the signing in November 2015 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Convention on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and its Plan of Action. The Philippines was not yet through with adopting the legislation that would further advance the rights and freedoms of women in the country, and with a new administration would continue to advocate of the protection for women and pursue a women’s legislative agenda. The Philippines was the first country in the region to have prepared the National Action Plan 1325 for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security.
Questions from the Experts
A Committee Expert welcomed the adoption of the Magna Carta of Women in 2009 and asked what impact this law had had on the repeal of discriminatory laws and legal provisions which still existed in the country, particularly in light of the fact that, regrettably, the Magna Carta of Women provided very little protection for women with disabilities. What was the legal position of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the domestic legal order and what steps had been taken to implement the Committee’s recommendations on two cases from the Philippines where the State party had been found in violation of its responsibilities under the Convention and its Optional Protocol? The Expert was concerned about the heavy militarization of the mining projects, which posed a serious threat to indigenous people, and in particular indigenous women human rights defenders, who advocated for the respect of indigenous rights, in particular the right to land. What measures were in place to mitigate the negative impact of large-scale mining programmes on the way of life and the rights of indigenous communities and what steps were in place to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act?
Another Committee Expert raised concerns about barriers and obstacles in accessing justice, particularly for women with disabilities and indigenous women, including the Moro. Police and court processes remained inaccessible to persons with disabilities, for example, victims of rape who had hearing problems could not file complaints because sign language interpreters were not available. How was the Philippines addressing the stigmatisation of and discrimination against women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity?
Responses by the Delegation
Several bills had been introduced in Congress to address some of the discriminatory laws, including the bill on rape and on forgiveness. They were still pending and it was hoped that the new Congress would soon adopt them. The Anti-Discrimination Bill would also be re-submitted soon, and it would contain measures to protect people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite the fact that the national law was still not in place, there were 17 local government units which had passed ordinances to protect persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.
With regard to access to justice for Muslim women, a representative explained that Muslim communities were guided by personal law, which to outsiders might seem discriminatory, but to Muslim women it was a law that was divinely guided and that no man-made law could ever supersede. Issues of polygamy and early marriages were still the subject of discussions in the draft laws. The religious authorities in the Autonomous Muslim Region of Mindanao had passed four fatwas, including on issues such as early marriage, in which it had urged Muslims to get married when they reached the necessary level of physical and psychological maturity. The age of marriage was 20 for men and 18 for women. Muslim women had access to justice either through customary laws or through public laws available to them.
With regard to the impact of mining activities on the rights of indigenous people, a representative from the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples said that the State was working together with the Army and the National Police in communities with mining activities. The Commission had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Army in order to look into the concerns of indigenous people in relation to military presence in the mining areas. Although the indigenous people in mining areas were concerned about government forces, they were also worried about actions of non-State actors, so the Commission was putting in place a rapid response mechanism to address violations of the rights of indigenous people. The Executive Order 79 had institutionalized the Mining Industry Coordinating Body, which ensured the continuous dialogue and instituted capacity building programmes for mining companies; it also had the remit of conducting assessments of all mining-related laws with a view to recommend the allocation of risk and revenue between the government and the mining sector.
The domestic laws in the Philippines took precedence over international laws, while the Government was working with Muslim communities to repeal discriminatory provisions from customary laws, including the repeal of the law which obliged a victim of rape to marry the perpetrator. The law had been passed which provided for accessible and specialized voting places for persons with disabilities and senior citizens. The Philippines was very much aware about multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination which affected for example migrant women, women with disabilities, women with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and other groups, and said that the Government was in constant dialogue with such groups, in order to support them in pushing through pieces of legislation.
Asked about the compensation to Karen Vertido as per the Committee’s finding in 2010, a delegate explained that the Philippines was currently preparing a law on compensation to victims of human rights violations as decreed by human rights treaty bodies. In partnership with civil society organizations, training activities were being conducted for police officers on diverse forms of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. There was a very dynamic community of non-governmental organizations which constantly engaged with the government on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues.
Questions from the Experts
A Committee Expert commended the strengthening of the mandate and functioning of the Philippines Commission on Women and asked whether the increase in the resources was adequate to support the Commission’s huge mandate, what steps were being taken to monitor the implementation of the budget in addressing gender issues, and what was the role of civil society in this. The Women’s Empowerment, Development and Gender Equality Plan was ending this year; would it be renewed and how it would be assessed and evaluated? How would the Government address the findings and recommendations made by the Commission on Human Rights on several cases which involved discrimination on various grounds?
Experts commended the Philippines for the adoption of temporary special measures as stipulated in the Magna Carta of Women, and the impressive list of laws which aimed to increase participation and representation of women in various walks of life. What was the impact of such measures, and what was the monitoring mechanism that was put in place?
Responses by the Delegation
Programmes had been adopted for the acceleration of the implementation of the Magna Carta of Women, and the Government had just approved an additional 20 positions to strengthen the Philippines Commission on Women to focus on sectoral concerns. The Commission was in partnership with regional and local development bodies and regional coordinators provided the necessary technical assistance to regional and local authorities, and promoted the Magna Carta of Women. The monitoring of the gender budget occurred annually, and there were guidelines in place to support the development of gender sensitive budgeting. The Commission had received 600 plans and budgets for review, including by regions. Monitoring was a challenge, so a monitoring plan with indicators was developed with donor agencies’ assistance.
The Women’s Empowerment, Development and Gender Equality Plan was indeed ending this year. The impact of the plan would be evaluated – so far the baseline and progress reports had been produced - and the new plan would be developed by the new administration. What still needed to be ascertained and understood was the real impact of the plan and the Magna Carta of Women on the lives of women in the Philippines, and the Government looked forward to the guidance and assistance by the Committee in this regard.
The Philippines Commission on Women could not implement the Magna Carta of Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women alone, regardless of how many staff they had. What was being done was to support gender mainstreaming and women empowerment at all levels: regional, provincial, local, and village. The Commission provided technical support, guidance, training and capacity building to achieve this goal.
The impact on the lives of Filipina women of the Magna Carta of Women was hard to measure, but there was anecdotal evidence of the impact on the social and economic situation. A conditional cash transfer had benefited 4.4 million households; in 89 per cent of those households women had been recognized as the most responsible adults and received cash grants to support the health and education of their children. The programme also required attendance of the couple during the monthly discussions, for example on gender sensitivity, responsible parenting, laws on violence against women and children, disaster preparedness and others. One of the strategies in implementing the conditional cash transfer was linking it to other initiatives services, for example in health, or sustainable livelihood opportunities. On the economic front, the State had been supporting the transfer of women from informal to formal employment, and was currently developing, in cooperation with the Philippines Commission on Women, the Informal Transition Economy Act to provide social protection for women engaged in the informal sector, and who were currently not covered by the Labour Law. Another programme was in place to support the scaling up of the sustainable livelihood initiatives, including the provision of social protection to entrepreneurs for the first three months of activity. The employment rate of women in the Philippines was higher than that of men, and women were active economic contributors in the country.
Questions from the Experts
A Committee Expert commended the Philippines for the many measures in education, advocacy and training to eliminate gender stereotyping and noted that, despite those positive measures, stereotypical and patriarchal attitudes were quite entrenched in the society. Was there a specific awareness raising strategy aimed at traditional and religious leaders, and at the media? How were derogatory remarks by high-level public officials addressed, and were there sensitivity training programmes in place?
The Magna Carta of Women had recognized violence against women as a priority issue, but a comprehensive policy framework and an inter-agency mechanism on domestic violence were lacking. Many instances of domestic violence were not reported. What was being done to encourage women to come forward and report domestic violence, including sexual violence, and educate them about criminal sides of such offences? The present law against violence against women was mostly focused on domestic violence; were there plans to adopt a more comprehensive law on all forms of violence against women committed in all settings, including in conflict and disaster situations, and also to specifically address violence against women with disabilities, indigenous women, and other vulnerable groups of women?
There were no shelters for women victims of trafficking and it was important to address this issue, said another Expert, calling upon the Philippines to improve its victim identification and referral mechanisms, in order to avoid that victims fell again into trafficking. The Philippines should continue to strengthen the prosecution of perpetrators of trafficking in persons, as well as the prosecution and sanctioning of officials involved in the crime. What were the reasons for a delay in the adoption of the Anti-prostitution Bill and what efforts were in place to address the demand side?
Responses by the Delegation
Several laws addressed violence against women, including sexual harassment, intimate partner abuse, and rape. There were no reflections on passing a comprehensive law on violence against women, but the Philippines was entertaining the idea of passing a law which would address violence against vulnerable women, such as women with disabilities for example.
The law on trafficking in persons had been passed in 2003 and amended in 2013; the State continued to review it, strengthen it and cope with the threats of international criminal syndicates. The Inter-Agency Council on Trafficking had data on victims, but more information was needed on how they were recruited, and exploited. The Council had adopted a policy and guidelines on the early identification of victims of trafficking in 2012, which was primarily implemented by the Department of Immigration as it focused on the identification of internationally-bound victims of trafficking. In 2015, almost 4,000 victims had been identified using those guidelines in international ports.
In order to address the trafficking in persons by mail-order brides, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas conducted surveys of persons wishing to leave the country and join the spouse abroad, while Filipinos departing for jobs abroad could attend pre-employment and pre-departure orientation trainings and seminars. This was one of the measures to protect the individuals even before they left the country.
In order to protect migrant workers from trafficking, the authorities included trafficking in persons in campaigns and training programmes for local authorities and potential migrant workers. Recently, the mandatory pre-employment orientation and pre-departure seminar had been made mandatory for first-time migrant workers, in order to raise awareness about human trafficking. The Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration had to process and approve all migrant workers for departure; in their efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, it shared data with the Department for Immigration which, upon control of travel documents at the port of departure, would stop and defer departure of all those migrant workers who had not been processed by the Overseas and Employment Administration.
Gender stereotyping was one of the issues where a sustained effort was needed to ensure that the measures took effect. The Government took a multi-pronged approach of targeting the media and supporting them to self-regulate and sanction outlets that presented women in a demeaning manner. The guidelines for the media had been developed on how they should portray women and children, particularly those in situations of violence; violation of those guidelines would result in a Congressional hearing.
Questions from the Experts
In the next round of questions, Committee Experts commended the Philippines for the progress made in the participation of women in political and public life, but noted that much still remained to be improved, such as the representation of women in higher seats of Parliament, or in the government. What measures were being taken to accelerate the representation of women in decision-making bodies, and to ensure that more women had leading positions in Parliament, the judiciary and other sectors? Would political parties be obliged to use quotas in the selection of women candidates, in accordance with the law? How many women were represented in international organizations and had there been any attempts to evaluate the impact of the National Action Plan 1325 for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security?
Responses by the Delegation
According to the most recent electoral statistics, the majority of voters were women, and women were also the majority of those who had voted. At the latest elections, 17 per cent of the elected were women, which was not as representative as the Government would have wanted. The last Congress had turned down the bill which would have obliged the political parties to ensure that half of their nominees were female; the work on this bill would continue. There were 84 embassies and consulates, of which 44 per cent were headed by women, while gender parity would be reached within the next three years, given that half of all Deputy Chief of Missions were women. In the Philippines, there were no restrictions to women aspiring to positions in politics or any public position, and it was up to the free choice of a woman.
Responding to the question of the impact of mining on the indigenous communities and the ability of the State to protect their rights, a delegate said that one of the most powerful affirmative action laws in the country was the law on the rights of indigenous people. Many reports had been circulating, highlighting the negative impact of mining on indigenous communities, and a delegate reassured the Committee that the Government had in place a mechanism which ensured that indigenous communities shared in the wealth and resources found in their territories. There were reserved seats for indigenous people in law and decision-making bodies at all levels of the Government, with 30 per cent of the representation by indigenous women.
Questions from the Experts
The nationality law was gender neutral, but it was not clear whether women and men had equal rights to transmit the citizenship to their spouses and children. Prior to the change of the nationality law in 1995, women would lose their citizenship if they had married to foreigners – how well was the new law disseminated among women who had had to relinquish their nationality?
Replies by the Delegation
Previously, the Constitution had stated that citizenship could only come from a Filipino father, but it had been changed to give women a possibility of transmitting their citizenship to their children, regardless of their place of birth. A woman marrying a foreigner could retain her citizenship, unless the laws of the husband stated differently. The Philippines had a dual citizenship law, giving its citizens a possibility of holding full rights of citizenship even if they had another nationality.
Answering the question on the implementation of the National Action Plan 1325 for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, a delegate said that the assessment of the implementation was ongoing. There was an unprecedented increase of the participation of women in the peace process, including in Track One on actual peace negotiations, which were headed by women; women also headed several task force groups and other peace initiatives. In 2010 the Philippines became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to start the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, and the National Action Plan was implemented in many conflict-affected areas in the country, including through socio-economic development of those areas, and support for former combatants.
Questions from the Experts
A Committee Expert remarked that in 2010/2011, the net enrolment rate of girls at the primary level was 91 per cent, which meant that for every 100 girls, there were nine who did not go to school. At the secondary level, that rate dropped to 66 per cent, and the Committee Expert asked who were those 32 per cent of the girls who were excluded from school, what obstacles and barriers they faced in accessing education, and which temporary special measures could be put in place to ensure that all girls went to school, including through mainstream education for children with disabilities. Sexual harassment in school was increasingly being recognized and addressed, especially at tertiary level. What steps were in place to deal with sexual harassment in schools, treat them as criminal offences, investigate and prosecute the offenders?
A Committee Expert commended the steps that the Government was taking to move workers from the informal to formal sector, and asked what was being done to ensure that women, who made up the majority of informal sector workers – enjoyed social protection, including maternity benefits. The delegation was asked about steps to address gender stereotypes in training and employment, including the concentration of women in training leading to traditional female jobs, gender wage gap, and sexual harassment in the workplace, which was a concern.
In terms of access to health care, women with disabilities, poor and marginalized women still faced obstacles in accessing health services. What plans were in place to ensure access to health care for all and to extend health coverage to all areas of the country, including remote ones? Would the prohibition on abortion be lifted for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or where the life of the mother was at risk? How many women lived with HIV/AIDS and what was the impact of measures to control the transmission of the disease, particularly on the number of new infections in women? Did the current law on reproductive health cover the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, and women and girls with disabilities? It was regrettable that the Philippines had failed to repeal laws and local rules which restricted the access to contraception for women, a Committee Expert said, adding that in the absence of the expressive repeal, local governments were imposing a ban on contraceptives and declaring areas “pro-life”.
Responses by the Delegation
Serious affirmative measures had been adopted to ensure substantive equal access to education, particularly to high-paying professions and vocational training which were traditionally male-dominated. Places and scholarships were being provided to girls enrolling in science and engineering courses. All schools were required to implement the provisions of the Magna Carta of Women and address sexual violence and sexual harassment, while complaints mechanisms had been developed and accountability for perpetrators was assured. The average basic pay of women was higher than that of men, but the pay gap started to show in higher income brackets, which was probably dependent on experience, qualifications and the needs and requirements of employers.
There had been attempts to amend the Criminal Code and legalize abortion on exceptional grounds, but this had been withdrawn, and a recommendation had been made to draft a separate law to address abortion in such instances. There was no revocation of the executive orders of the city of Manila concerning limitations to access to reproductive health services, because they were considered revoked by the enactment of the 2012 Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law. The de facto ban on the access to family planning services and methods in the City of Sorsogon was an ongoing problem, which was being currently addressed. While abortion was not legal yet, post-abortion health care and services were available to women without fear.
Questions from the Experts
Even though the Magna Carta of Women guaranteed access to food, especially for the elderly, the Committee Expert asked about the special measures to ensure that social protection was extended to elderly women, the infirm, and the poor. Women were evicted from their homes in urban slums for beautification projects of the city, and the delegation was asked about compensation they were given for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. Was there a comprehensive protection framework for women and girls with disabilities?
A Committee Expert expressed her grave concern about extra-judicial executions of indigenous women human rights defenders who fought for the rights of indigenous communities living in areas where large-scale mining operations were taking place. Noting the specific vulnerabilities of women with disabilities, indigenous women, internally displaced women and Muslim women, the Expert said that there was a need for Muslim communities to look at experiences of other Muslim societies on how they progressed in the implementation of Sharia.
The Philippines was very vulnerable to climate change and Experts noted with regret the reversal of the progress made in development because of natural disasters. However, disasters were not gender neutral, and they impacted women and children more. Was the gender perspective incorporated in disaster preparedness and management plans in the Philippines and did women take part in decision and policy-making bodies? What protection measures were put in place for women with special needs, including protection from sexual violence?
Responses by the Delegation
In response to the issues raised by the Experts, a delegate said that the Expanded Senior Citizens Act ensured special protection of the elderly, including social non-contributory pensions to some categories of senior citizens and mandatory free health enrolment for all. The social protection framework in the Philippines extended the protection through a set of policies and measures, including the labour market, social insurance, social welfare, and others. Families which were relocated from urban slums were being provided with support to access public and community services in resettlement sites, as well as certain compensation.
The Code of Muslim Personal Law was the basis for the implementation of Sharia in the country, and there was a need to address its provisions on polygamy and early marriage in this old law. There were currently discussions by the clergy and the people in the Autonomous Muslim Region in Mindanao to submit the revised law for adoption by the congress. The religious authorities had however proclaimed a fatwa on the modern family in Islam which discouraged polygamy and early marriages, which was defined as a marriage to a child under the age of 18.
The issue of mining and extractive industries had become very political in the Philippines and the Government had put in place the Intergenerational Equity Approach which provided indigenous people with all the administrative guidelines to enable their active participation in mining activities, and a share in the wealth found in their territories. There were a number of ongoing initiatives to ensure that women and girls were at the heart of considerations in responses to disasters, climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness planning.
Questions from the Experts
The 2009 Magna Carta of Women stated the obligation of the State to repeal all discriminatory laws within three years of enactment. What steps would be taken to encourage the new Congress to repeal or amend discriminatory laws? There were inconsistencies between the Magna Carta of Women, and some provisions of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, which contained a number of discriminatory practices, and the delegation was asked whether a study had been conducted on the appropriate measures to ensure women’s legal recognition before the law in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws. All customary laws in the Philippines, and in particular the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, were in contradiction with the Magna Carta of Women, which guaranteed that women would be free from discrimination, including in matters of family and marriage. In those communities, polygamy and early marriages were still practiced. What plans were in place to revise the law on adultery, and to adopt a law on marriage equality?
Responses by the Delegation
The Commission of Women had adopted the women’s legislative agenda, which contained discriminatory laws that the Commission wished to see revised or amended. As for the discriminatory legal provisions affecting indigenous and Muslim women, the delegate noted that it was up to those women to increase their ranks and speak as one on the legal changes they needed. There was no intention at the moment to pass the law on marriage equality, and the Philippines was currently considering the legalization of divorce.
CECILIA REBONG, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee Experts for their questions and assured the Committee that the Philippines was fully committed to the implementation of the Convention.
EMMELINE VERZOSA, Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women, thanked the Experts for listening to the challenges in the Philippines and for their questions on how the country could improve the implementation of the Convention and so improve the lives of women and girls in the country. The Commission had been strengthened and would continue to improve its monitoring mechanism, said Ms. Verzosa, who reaffirmed the strong commitment to sustain and improve women’s rights in line with the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
ROSARIO MANALO, Foreign Affairs Adviser, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, expressed hope that, regardless of a hiatus in reporting to the Committee for 10 years, the Committee Experts could see today that the Philippines had never given up on the promotion and advancement of the status of women in the country.
YOKO HAYASHI, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue, commended the Philippines for its efforts, and encouraged it to take all necessary measures to address the Committee’s recommendations and concluding observations.
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