Malilong: Of marriage and tree planting

Frank Malilong
·2 min read

NO PLANTING, no license? I thought the applicable rule among couples was no license, no planting.

Requiring applicants to plant trees before they can be issued a marriage license is not a new idea. As pointed out by colleague Bobby Nalzaro in his column last Tuesday, the proposed ordinance introduced by Councilor Nestor Archival in the Cebu City Council is just a rehash of a similar measure filed by Councilor Nida Cabrera almost 10 years ago.

I also remember that a similar ordinance was passed by the municipal council of a northwestern town (Tuburan?) many years ago, but it was struck down by the provincial board as ultra vires, meaning that it was beyond the council’s authority to legislate.

The point then, if I remember correctly, was that a municipal ordinance cannot amend a national law, in that (and in this) case, the Family Code of the Philippines. The Code enumerates the requisites for the issuance of a marriage license and planting two trees is not one of them. There is therefore no legal basis for putting proof of tree-planting in the same level as the birth or the baptismal certificates of the applicants.

Besides, Archival’s proposal is impractical and consequently unfair. Both the marriage license and the marriage ceremony are considered formal requisites of marriage, and both need not occur in the same place. In other words, a couple can get married in Cebu City even if their marriage license was issued elsewhere. That is what Art. 20 of the Code says.

The proposal thus classifies would-be couples without a reasonable ground or basis, thus: those who apply for a license elsewhere and get married in Cebu City and those who apply for a license and get married both in Cebu City. That the latter is subjected to a heavier burden than the other in order to wed is what is unfair.

Besides, we already have many laws that require tree-planting. All that Archival needs to do to “green” Cebu City is to make sure that these laws are enforced. Unless they have been repealed or amended, the following laws serve the purpose for which his proposed ordinance is intended:

- Presidential Decree No. 1153 requiring the planting of one tree every month by every citizen who is at least 10 years old for five consecutive years.

- Presidential Decree No. 953 requiring those who own a lot adjoining a creek or a river, or an existing subdivision, or who hold a license or permit from the government to occupy and utilize forests and grazing lands to plant trees.

- Republic Act 10176 reviving the observance of Arbor Day by authorizing the Local Government Units the responsibilities for celebrating the day for tree planting as an annual event.

As it is, those who intend to get married are already burdened by so many requirements from both the Church and the government. Don’t make the process even more cumbersome for your constituents, sir.