Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Bill Allowing Married Women To Retain Maiden Name Gets House Nod


Bill Allowing Married Women To Retain Maiden Name Gets House Nod

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Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Tuesday said the final reading approval of a measure allowing married women to retain their maiden surnames is a “relevant and timely” move to prove the commitment of the House of Representatives to promoting equality of men and women before the law.

“It is not enough that our jurisprudence says that a married woman has an option, but not a duty, to use the surname of the husband. It is important that we institutionalize that they can decide to retain both their maiden name and surname,” Romualdez said.

With an overwhelming 277 votes, the chamber approved on the third reading House Bill 4605, which seeks to amend a portion of the country’s 72-year-old New Civil Code (NCC).

The bill seeks to uphold the right of married women to retain their maiden surnames even after marriage and provide them with options in the surname that they may use.

Under the current version of Article 370 of Title XIII, Book III of the Republic Act No. 386, as amended, a married woman has three options: use her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname; use her maiden first name and her husband’s surname; or use her husband’s full name then prefix a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”.

The proposed Article 370 under HB 4605 introduces a fourth option retaining the maiden first name and surname, in other words, a married woman may choose not to introduce any change to her name.

The bill is principally co-authored by Manila Representative Edward Vera Maceda, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, San Juan City Rep. Ysabel Zamora, Leyte Rep. Juliet Marie Veloso-Tuazon, Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Ferrer, Eastern Samar Rep. Maria Fe Abunda, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, Leyte Rep. Lolita Javier, Zamboanga City Rep. Mannix Dalipe and ACT-CIS Rep. Jocelyn Tulfo.


Collateral-free loan bill

Meanwhile, the House also approved on the third and final reading a measure seeking to establish a sustainable and collateral-free financing program for the country’s micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

Voting 278-0 with no abstentions, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved House Bill No. 7363, or the “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso Act,” which aims to provide an affordable, accessible and simple financing program for MSEs, especially those in the poorest populations and underserved areas.

“We believe this measure will greatly help our struggling MSEs still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, who often turn to unscrupulous loan sharks who charged excessive interests for loans,” Romualdez said.

“As MSEs employ millions of Filipinos, they need to grow in numbers to employ more workers. This measure seeks to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit of the Filipino by taking out two of their worries, which are high-interest rates on MSE loans and putting up collateral for financing,” he added.

HB 7363 also seeks to provide a better alternative to the informal lenders or the so-called “5-6” money lending system availed of by micro enterprises; bring down the interest rate at which financial services is made available to MSEs; and boost development of entrepreneurship, particularly in the MSE sector.

The measure mandates the creation of the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Fund, “which shall be lent out to qualified MSEs under such terms and conditions that will meet the purposes of this Act.”

The P3 Fund shall be accessible through the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) and accredited partner financial institutions (PFIs) such as rural banks, thrift banks, development banks, cooperative banks, cooperatives, non-stock savings and loan associations, microfinance non-government organizations, or lending companies.

“The SB Corp., the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), shall be the lead implementing agency for the P3 Fund,” the measure reads.

The proposed bill provides the SB Corp. shall handle the fund delivery to MSEs through the following modes: Direct lending for forty percent (40 percent) of the P3 Fund; and Lending through accredited PFIs for sixty percent (60 percent) of the P3 Fund.

“The SB Corp. shall prioritize lending to underserved and unserved areas and MSE segments of the country, subject to the review and approval of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council,” it added.

The main features of the P3 Fund include low-interest rates and no collateral requirements for MSE loans.

“The effective interest rate to be imposed on the loan availed of by the P3 Fund beneficiaries shall not exceed one percent per month for direct lending, and shall not exceed two and a half percent per month for lending through accredited PFIs,” the measure said. (PNA)

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