Manila: The Philippines’ House of Representatives has recently approved a measure that would require a male foreigner intending to marry a Filipina, to show proof that he is capable of supporting the prospective wife.

The aim of House Bill 2387 is to prevent Filipino women (Filipinas) from being exploited by foreign men who lure them with the promise of marriage, Representative Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd congressional district said.

“Some foreigners marry Filipino women without evident means to support a family,” Garcia said.

Presently, the country’s law governing the family only provides that foreigners show capacity to enter into marriage.

“Section 21 of the Family Code only provides that, when either or both of the contracting parties are citizens of a foreign country, it shall be necessary for them, before a marriage licence can be obtained, to submit a certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage, issued by their respective diplomatic or consular officials.”

Under the new measure however, the state would require foreigners who want to marry Filipina to show proof that they can support their wife.

“When the male contracting party is a foreigner, in addition to the certificate of legal capacity, a certificate of good moral character and a certificate of gainful trade, business, employment or other lawful source of income issued by his diplomatic or consular official, must be submitted before a marriage licence can be obtained,” the Bill says.

According to Garcia, Representative Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, chair of the House Committee on Revision of Laws, strongly endorsed the passage of the measure.

“It is public knowledge that some of the foreigners coming to the Philippines in order to marry Filipino women are vagabonds or social and moral derelicts in their own countries and whose real motive for marriage is only to take advantage and exploit our women by making them work and worse, by sending them to prostitution and other degrading and dehumanising occupations,” Garcia said.

“The exploitation of our women, thru the so-called mail-order or pen-pal, Facebook, website and other internet-arranged marriages, have caused not only untold miseries and sufferings for the victims but also brought dishonour and disgrace to Filipino womanhood,” the former Cebu governor added.

While the House may have strong support for the measures, some Filipinos view the issue differently.

Some say that the proposal could overstep limits of how the law can intervene in relationships between a man and a woman.

John Castaneda of the University of the Philippines (UP), wrote in a post at the UP Centre for Women’s Studies Facebook page: “I’m all for greater protection for our women, but from what I can see, what the bill is essentially espousing is a kind of superficial policy that doesn’t really address the core issue of ‘why’ our women are so vulnerable to the maladies of abusive relationships with foreigners (ex. lack of education, poor health, etc.). I’m also a bit sceptical about the provisions, such as the certification of ‘good moral character’ and legal capacity for marriage, which not only burdens otherwise good relationships between local women and foreigners with more documentation but also adds to the headache of the embassies and consulates of other countries who must now provide these documents for couples.”

While the measure may have passed in the House, it is yet to have a counterpart proposal at the Senate.