A New Bill Plans to Make Online Weddings Binding and Legal
It was only a matter of time, but the next social function to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic is weddings. Like many other cultures, Filipinos are weddings-crazy, and because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it might be a while before we can see normal marriage ceremonies, i.e. those that involve hundreds of guests at the church and at the reception.
But a bill filed in Congress seeks to do away with the physical presence of the parties involved in a marriage ceremony. House Bill No. 7042 filed by Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo seeks to allow “virtual” wedding ceremonies as a consequence of the current ban on public gatherings.
The bill effectively amends Executive Order 209, or the Family Code, which requires that a “marriage ceremony…takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.”
But Salo argued that, because of the current regulations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, marriage ceremonies have been postponed or canceled.
“The essence of the marriage ceremony is the personal appearance of the parties before the solemnizing officer and their declaration that they freely and willingly take each other as husband and wife,” Salo said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“It is respectfully proposed that the term presence and personal appearance provided in the Family Code be broadly construed to include the virtual presence.”
The bill requires that couples to be wed must be together in one location and jointly face the solemnizing officer, who can perform the ceremony in person or online.
It also proposes that virtual marriages between Filipino citizens abroad may also be solemnized by the Consul-General, Consul or Vice-Consul of the Philippines.
Singapore passed its own law allowing virtual weddings last May 5.