Congress Pushes Bill Against Sexual Infidelity

MANILA, Philippines - A House of Representatives committee has approved a bill that would impose stiff penalties on married citizens engaging in sexual intercourse with an individual other than his or her legal spouse.

The House Committee on Women and Gender Equality has endorsed for plenary action on House Bill 5734 which also eliminates gender bias in laws penalizing the crimes of adultery and concubinage.

HB 5734, an Act Defining the Crime of Sexual Infidelity, is a consolidation of five bills filed by Deputy Speaker Ma. Isabelle Climaco; Susan Yap (LP, Tarlac); Josephine Veronique Lacson Noel (LP, Malabon-Navotas); Teddy Brawner Baguilat (LP, Ifugao); and Linabelle Ruth Villarica (LP, Bulacan).

The bill defines sexual infidelity as an act committed by any legally married person who shall have sexual intercourse with another person other than his or her legal spouse.

Lacson-Noel said HB 5734 does not exempt a person whose marriage has been subsequently declared void.

However, the crime cannot be prosecuted by anybody except upon the complaint of the offended spouse.

''The bill aims to protect the institution of marriage,'' the neophyte solon said.

Lacson-Noel said the bill also eliminates the disparity between the penalties imposed by existing laws on the crimes of concubinage and adultery.

Under Article 333 of the Revised Penal Code, adultery is committed by a married woman who engages in sexual intercourse with a man not her husband. Offenders are punishable by prision correccional, a maximum jail term of six years.

On the other hand, Article 333 of RPC metes out on the offender a penalty of destierro or banishment from the community where the couple lives for a certain period of time.

HB 5734 treats the two crimes as the same acts that constitute sexual infidelity.

A penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period will be imposed upon a person who is found guilty of keeping a ''paramour in the conjugal dwelling.''

On the other hand, if cohabitation takes place in a location other than the house of the legally married couple, the penalty will be prision correccional in its medium period.

Lawmakers proposed that an offended party can no longer file charges against the alleged offender if the former is also guilty of sexual infidelity or had abandoned the guilty spouse without just cause for more than one year.

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