Legal Oddities?

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Our laws pass through rigorous scrutiny of our legislators. In fact it is one of the reasons why we have a bi-cameral congress- to ensure that proposed laws are thoroughly deliberated before they are signed into law. These laws even go through refinement as they get eamended due to recommendations from the Court and other legal experts. There are, however certain provisions of law that do not seem to make sense at present. Here are some of them:


Thoughtless Extravagance- Article 25 of the Civil Code says that “thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped”. I know not of any instance when this law was enforced.

Losses and Winnings- Article 95 of the Family Code (FC)says that “whatever may be lost during the marriage in any game of chance…shall be borne by the loser… but any winnings…shall form part of the community property”. This should protect the family from spouses who are habitual gamblers but note that “winnings” shall be part of their community property.

Property Administration- Article 96 of the FC states that “the administration and enjoyment of the community property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husband’s decision shall prevail…” Feminists or those promoting gender equality might find this unfair but the law actually grants the wife the recourse of going to court.

Offending the Religious Feelings- Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) according to some is a remnant of the Spanish era because it punishes people who shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful in a place of religious worship. This does not, however apply only to Christian churches but to all religions. This law became famous thanks to the “Damaso act” of the late Mr. Celdran at the Manila Cathedral some years ago.

There are no male prostitutes- Article 202 of the RPC says “…women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes”. Therefore, only women can be punished as prostitutes under the RPC since the law itself excludes males from the definition. Again, gender equality activists may consider this as a discriminatory law.

Unpunished Killing- Article 247 of the RPC merely imposes the penalty of distierro (banishment) upon a person who shall kill his or her spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another. This also applies to parents with respect to their under eighteen daughters living with them. Experts say that this law seeks to allow the spouse or parents to redeem their honour. This law remains effective despite several attempts to repeal it.

Infanticide- Article 255 of the RPC imposes a lighter penalty to a mother who shall kill her child less than three days old if committed for the purpose of concealing her dishonour. This might be in line with pro-abortion advocates who say that the mother shall have the option to abort her child in case the same was the product of rape.

Duel- Under Article 260 of the RPC, killing a person in a duel shall be punished in the same manner as homicide. The second (the official attendant in a duel) shall also be punished. Although duel might have been a way of settling manly disputes in the distant past, the law reiterates that the same is no longer acceptable.

Fortune Tellers- Article 318 of the RPC punishes those “who for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public…” I bet no one gets arrested because they can easily tell when their arrest warrant will be served so they can evade the authorities easily.