THE CODE OF MUSLIM PERSONAL LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES: BEYOND THE LENSES OF BONDAGJY v. BONDAGJY
The dynamics of mixed marriages governed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (Muslim Code) creates variables that sometimes lead to the non-application of the said Code to Shari’ah cases arising from said marriages. This is highlighted in the familiar but controversial case of Bondagjy v. Bondagjy, wherein the Supreme Court of the Philippines did not apply the Muslim Code on the issue of custody of minor children born to a Muslim marriage prior to becoming ‘mixed’ by the conversion of the female party (Muslim convert) to another religion. The article argues that whatever variables are attendant in a specific conflict of rights where the Muslim Code applies, the resolution of said conflict must be in accordance with its provisions or other applicable Muslim laws. This perspective sustains the character of the Muslim Code as the applicable law in each Shari’ah case and disfavours the diminution of said character by the non-application of the Muslim Code. The article further argues that the application of the provisions of the Muslim Code affecting conflict of rights must be reinforced with the requisite good faith and honesty on the part of each party, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to ensure a just and fair resolution of each Shari’ah case. The article achieves its gist by evaluating how the ‘applicability clause’, the ‘construction and interpretation rules’, and the ‘conflict of provisions rules’ of the Muslim Code operate in the context of and beyond Bondagjy v. Bondagjy and other relevant cases. This critical analysis highlights the present status of the Muslim Code as the initial premise in the formulation of measures that are responsive to and promotive of the role of mixed marriage as a significant avenue for Muslim and non-Muslim relations in the Philippines and other foreign jurisdictions where similar relations exist.
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