Cebu City registrar opposes requirement for couples to plant trees

November 10, 2011 10:48 pm 

CEBU CITY, Nov. 10 –- The Office of the City Civil Registrar (OCCR) in Cebu City opposed the draft ordinance that seeks to require engaged couples to plant trees in a designated area in the city before tying the knot.

If it becomes a local law, the marriage rate might further decrease, said OCCR Chief lawyer Evangeline Abatayo.

”The application for a marriage license is supposed to be as simple as possible,” Abatayo said on the draft ordinance.

Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera, head of the council’s committee on environment, filed the proposed ordinance requiring couples to plant trees and attend a solid waste management lecture, before the OCCR gives them a marriage license.

Cabrera said this will “help protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

However, Abatayo said the proposed requirements are an additional burden on couples.

Abatayo said they have been receiving a lot of complaints from couples applying for some of the requirements from the Cebu City Health Department (CHD) and the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS).

The CHD conducts premarital counseling, while the DSWS conducts family counseling for couple intending to marry.

Couples, might be put off by another pre-requisite, that of getting a certification from the City Environment and Natural Resource Office that they have planted five tree seedlings, before they can get a marriage license, she said.

Based on records of the OCCR, Abatayo said that marriages have been decreasing by an average rate of 5.30 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Total applications for marriage licenses have decreased by 2.52 percent over the 10-year period, she added.

The factors that contributed to this drop, Abatayo said, include poverty, lack of commitment to a long-term relationship, incompatibility, and the cost of getting married.

”In view of the decreasing marriage rate, we do not favor the added burden of tree-planting, for the reason that it may become a hindrance to the marriage application,” she said.

Abatayo also opposed the proposed ordinance as it penalizes couples who fail to comply.

This is not supported by any national law on marriages, and may be in conflict with the Family Code of the Philippines and other laws related to marriage, she explained.

Based on Cabrera’s proposed ordinance, a fine of not more than P2,500 but not less than P1,000 shall be imposed on those who fail to perform any acts required by the ordinance.

Abatayo’s comments on the proposed measure will be incorporated in the final draft of the ordinance, said Cabera. (PNA) DCT/FFC/EB/re

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