Veteran Philippine musician Freddie Aguilar. Image Credit: Marcel Duprix/Freddie Aguilar/Facebook

Manila: Music legend Freddie Aguilar has acquired supporters following a raging debate about his love affair with a 16-year-old girlfriend.

“It’s a consensual relationship between two people in love with a wide age gap,” said Congresswoman Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela, a sectoral party at the House of Representatives.

“Her parents have already blessed the relationship,” argued Ilagan.

“Freddie Aguilar can marry his girlfriend as long as he gets the consent of her parents,” said Congressman Rodolfo Albano.

“His other option is to wait for his girlfriend to reach legal age before marrying her,” said Congressman Lito Atienza, of Buhay, a sectoral party at the House of Representatives.

Earlier, the 60-year-old Aguilar said on TV that he did not realise that he courted a 16-year-old girl, adding that he would wait for her to reach a legal age.

The girl, whose name was not identified and whose face was not shown, said in a TVC interview that she loves the famous singer: “Even if I’m young, I am mature enough to know and discern if what I’m doing is right or wrong.” His daughter Maegan Aguilar, also a singer, defended the music legend, saying: “I love calling out morons or stupid [people who criticise my father].”

Aguilar and his first wife were separated 20 years ago and he has had two other partners since then.

Meanwhile, a social welfare department official in Manila said that social workers in Mindoro, southern Luzon will hold a meeting with the teenager’s parents.

It is important to know if they have voluntarily approved of the relationship, said social welfare official Dulfie Shalim, adding it is the mandate of her office to prevent minors from being abused or seduced.

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (NAMT), said Aquilar’s girlfriend is “definitely a minor”.

Aguilar’s composition, Anak (Child), which he recorded in 1978 sold six million copies. Translated in 26 languages, it became popular in Japan and Europe.

After the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino at the service stairway of a China Airlines plane that brought him home from the US in 1983, Aguilar’s rendition of Bayan Ko (My Country), a 1983 folk-protest song, became the anthem of protesters who waged war against former President Ferdinand Marcos at the time. Marcos was blamed for Aquino’s death.

The popularity of Aguilar’s the song also fuelled a people-backed military protest that ousted Marcos in 1986.