In our Human Rights elective, we have a live case wherein one of the affiants we drafted an affidavit for is a 64 year old lady involved in a common law relationship for the past 40 years or more. Our new house help who has a 4 year old son, was also involved in a common law marital relations until her "husband" left to work abroad, supposedly to earn money for their wedding, and then another common law "wife" surfaced.
The point is, in the Philippines, there are more people in common law marital relations than couples who are legally married. it is difficult because in affidavits for example, we need to state whether a person is "single or married" there is no option for "in a common law marital relations" and there are laws wherein common law wives and their children will find it difficult to obtain benefits due them, because they are not recognized as "legally entitled thereto."
In Canada and the United Kingdom, common law relationships are recognized, however in the Philippines, it is not. Is this a case therefore of our legislation falling behind?
Despite technological advances, many people in the Philippines do not even have birth certificates, a required document prior to getting a marriage license. Many people in far provinces, (not only those electricity doesn't reach as in my previous blog entry), are not informed of the legal repercussions of their non-registry of birth or their entering common law relations instead of legally getting married.
Ignorance of the law excuses noone, but it is really not fair to expect many people in situations such as dire poverty to know any better. How will information regarding these very important matters reach more people?
I don't really know the solution, i was just bothered by these facts and would like to ponder more about it in the hopes of coming up with possible courses of action to remedy or improve the situation.
Entry # 13