August 20, 2021 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines — Two parliamentary leaders have opposed a bill allowing absolute divorce in the country.
Vice Presidents Lito Atienza and Eddie Villanueva yesterday attacked the House Population and Family Relations Committee’s approval of a replacement bill that seeks to nullify marital union and divorced spouses to se remarry.
Atienza of the Buhay party list believes the measure is unconstitutional and has pledged to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
“This is in direct violation of the Constitution, particularly Article II, Section 12, which states that the state recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as an autonomous social institution of basis; and Article XV where the state “recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation”. Accordingly, it should strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development and that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and should be protected by the state,” he argued.
“The Constitution stipulates that the sanctity of marriage must be protected by the State. The adoption of this measure goes against the inviolability of marriage, which must never be broken, violated or dishonoured. We will challenge this all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, where we are sure it will be ruled unconstitutional,” Atienza said.
He criticized the panel for allegedly rushing the bill’s approval by “not inviting organizations to uphold the sanctity of marriage” and scheduling the hearing to coincide with the hearing on the report of the Audit Commission on the funds of the Ministry of Health last Monday.
“We condemn the action taken by the Population and Family Relations Commission to prevent passage of the substituted Absolute Divorce Bill in the country. They passed it in record time, treating it as lightly as renaming a public street,” he lamented.
Villanueva agreed with Atienza that the measure is not only “unconstitutional” but also “contrary to the deeply held Filipino value of preserving and striving for marriage.”
“Marriage, as an inviolable covenant, would henceforth be reduced to a contractual relationship, subject to the whims of unscrupulous individuals,” the CIBAC party list MP said.
Villanueva, founder of Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide, said divorce is not the solution to broken marriages.
“While I understand the fate of marriages that have become hostile and untenable, allowing divorce is not and never will be the answer to problematic unions. The legal remedies available such as legal separation, annulment and declaration of nullity of marriage are sufficient to remedy it,” he said.
Villanueva said the divorce bill should not be a priority at a time when congressional attention should be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the measure, defended the approval of the divorce bill.
Lagman, who led the technical task force that drafted the replacement bill, explained that the measure merely restores the absolute divorce that was already practiced in pre-Spanish times, the American colonial period and during the Japanese occupation.
He said the proposed law would allow couples in failed marriages to regain their humanity, self-respect and freedom from hopelessly failed marriages and utterly dysfunctional unions.
He lamented that the Philippines is now the only country in the world to ban absolute divorce, apart from the nearly celibate state of Vatican City.
“It is hard to believe that all other countries have collectively erred in instituting absolute divorce with varying degrees of liberality and limitations. A mass blunder is beyond comprehension. Erroneous unanimity on such a crucial family institution defies reason and experience. Obviously, the rest of the world can’t be wrong about the universality of absolute divorce,” he said.