When almost everything is forced online due to the pandemic, the age-old tradition of celebrating marriage is facing an update – i.e. a virtual marriage ceremony in the Philippines. Will it fly or is it dead on its track?
What are the concerns?
1. That it is not aligned with religious practices of certain churches, denominations, or sects.
2. That there is no guarantee that the consent was freely given by the parties.
For No. 1, there is no arguing with religious beliefs. That is why, there is freedom of religion and separation of church and state. Laws are and have to be non-sectarian.
For No. 2, it is a legitimate concern as it touches on consent. Who knows if on the other side of the laptop there is a shotgun pointed at a would-be spouse? (The shotgun wedding joke just got an update.)
To this, the rules on annulment of viodable marriages may apply. Currently, the Family Code allows for the annulment of a marriage where consent was obtained through force, intimidation, or undue influence.
Unfortunately, the costs for annulment is prohibitive to some. Considering that there is a 5-year prescription or time limit to filing, many voidable marriages become legitimated thereafter with the innocent/injured spouse having no other recourse to get out of the marriage given the Philippines is the only one of two States in the world without a divorce law in the Philippines. Who is the other one? The Vatican.