A Senate bill is seeking the filing of wedding annulment pleas before the Church or any other religious sects.

As allowed by the state to solemnize marriages, it is only proper that annulment cases be filed before them, according to Senate Bill 2047 or the Church Decree Annulment Act.

Author Senator Robinhood Padilla noted that since the Family Code of the Philippines provides that marriage may be solemnized by a priest, rabbi or minister of a church or religious sect, and registered with the Civil Registrar General, it is only rational for the same church or religious sect to have the power to rule on its nullity, “which ideally must take the same effect in the eyes of the State.”

On Feb. 23, the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved a similar bill filed by Tingog Party-list Representatives Jude Acidre and Yedda Marie Romualdez.

Acidre said if the bill becomes a law, a declaration of nullity (of marriage) decreed by the Church will hold as much weight and have the same effect as a civil annulment.

Padilla said his proposal will also solve the backlog cases and high cost of payment to free those trapped in unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Under the measure, the status of children of marriages subject to the church annulment or dissolution decree shall be determined under the Family Code of the Philippines.

He explained that if the ground for church annulment or dissolution is not similar to any of the grounds in the Family Code, their common children born or conceived before the issuance of the church annulment decree shall be considered legitimate.

Under the bill, the spouses shall agree upon the partition and distribution of the properties, and custody and support of the common children. If no agreement is met, the Family Code’s provisions shall be carried out.

The church annulment decree shall be recorded in appropriate civil registries along with the agreement of the spouses within 30 days from the issuance of the church annulment decree.

After this, either of the former spouses may marry again.

Meanwhile, Padilla also filed Senate Bill 2048 or The Film and Live Events Recovery Act to remove amusement taxes and grant tax holidays to Filipino-owned local productions to recover from their losses during the pandemic.

The bill exempts from amusement tax all locally produced creative materials whose copyright is owned by Filipinos and from local productions with at least 10 percent equity owned by Filipinos.

It also grants the film and music industries a tax holiday of two years and lowers the cap for amusement tax collection under the Local Government Code to five percent from the current 10 percent.

“Hence, it is imperative to give our film and music industries the necessary boost to thrive and recover from the pandemic and new challenges that cost them major losses while ensuring that the gains redound to local productions, thereby benefiting our people and economy,” read the bill’s explanatory note.

He said none of the locally produced films in 2022 hit PHP10 million in gross sales, a result of the existing taxes requiring the films to gross 270 percent of production costs to just break even.

The bill exempts from payment of amusement taxes locally produced film productions, musical plays, operas, concerts, dramas, recitals, painting and art exhibitions, flower shows, musical programs, and literary and oratorical presentations. (PNA)