Lower House grants married women right to retain maiden surnames

A bill granting married women the rightto retain their maiden names instead of adopting surnames of their husbands has been approved by the House of Representatives.

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With 227 members voting in the affirmative, House Bill 10459 was passed on third and final reading. There were no negative votes.

The House Committee on Revision of Law recommended passage of the bill which was approved by the panel during the Women’s month last March.

HB 10459 was authored by Reps. Luis N. Campos Jr. (Makati City) and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Partylist).

Campos is the husband of Makati City Mayor Abigael Binay who did not adopt the congressman’s surname in her political activities.

Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, chairman of the technical working group, endorsed the approval of the bill, saying that there is ineed a need to clarify Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines with regards to the mandatory use by married women of the last names of their husbands.

Romualdo, together with Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso Montalla, committee chairperson, were made co-authors of the bill In explaining her “yes” vote, Brosas noted that many Filipino women are now choosing to keep their maiden surname, adding that this is “absolutely their prerogative.” “This is no small feat for women. In fact, this is a welcome development in recognizing the independent legal identity of women apart from their spouse,” stated Brosas.

Under the bill, a married woman is given the fourth option of retaining her maiden first name and surname. This will be added to Article 370.

Campos noted that Article 370 a wedded woman is limited to just three choices: 1. Use her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname; 2. Carry her maiden first name and her husband’s surname 3. Use her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is wife, such as “Mrs.” “However, most Filipinos are not aware that a married woman also has a choice to retain her maiden name,” the Makati solon said.

He noted that in a 1995 ruling, the Supreme Court said a married woman has a “choice to retain her maiden name.” In the case of Hatima C. Yasin vs the Hon. Judge Shari’a District Court Third Shari’a Judicial District, Zamboanga City , the High Court said the use of he husband’s surname during marriage, after annulment of the marriage and after the death of the husband is “permissive and not obligatory.” “This bill does not in any way amend the law, what it does is larify the choices of surnames a married woman may use after marriage,” said Campos.

He added: “ This will would empower women since he would now have a clear legal provision stating that they have an option to retain theri last name even after marriage.”