MANILA, Philippines – For more than 10 years, Mark Luna has been physically separated from his wife, whom he accuses of having cheated on him twice. But he is not legally separated from his wife. He could ask for a cancellation, but it would be costly and difficult for him.
What he needs is a divorce, which he says would “free” him not only physically but emotionally and mentally from his failed marriage.
âIt’s a different feeling if you know you’re not legally bound by someone, by this marriage. Marriage becomes a piece of paper if one of the spouses rapes it, âLuna, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters in an interview on Monday.
So far, however, divorce is prohibited in the country.
Mark Luna is among divorce lawyers who met with Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday to try to step up efforts to pass the absolute divorce bill.
Hontiveros introduced the bill – âThe Divorce Law of 2019â – which aims to include as grounds for divorce the psychological incapacity of one of the spouses, irreconcilable marital differences, marital rape or separation from at least five years.
READ: Hontiveros files new divorce bill
Luna got married in 1993, but a year later he went abroad to work as a sailor. At sea, he discovered that his wife had cheated on him twice.
âI worked in the sea and twice did my best to save my marriage,â he said. âWe broke up twice. We have reconciled. I accepted it without even asking a question.
But he eventually gave up on making the marriage work and accepted that it could no longer be fixed.
He knew he couldn’t get his marriage annulled because he couldn’t afford it, with an upfront payment for a lawyer and psychologist amounting to Â£ 200,000.
The duration of the process is not even guaranteed. It can take months or even years.
Luna also found the annulment process “unreasonable,” noting that in order to annul her marriage, the spouse must be declared to be psychologically incompetent.
Under the law, infidelity, beatings or drug addiction are not grounds for cancellation, Luna lamented.
âThe cancellation is you go before the wedding and you analyze the spouse. We only fall under psychological incapacity and it is very unrealistic, âsaid Luna to further explain why he could not opt ââfor a cancellation. âI met her, I wooed her, I loved her and I married her. [Now] the state must tell me that my marriage is null and void due to psychological incapacity? Why not just state the real reason the marriage was ruined? “
Luna is one of the administrators of the Divorce Advocates of the Philippines group. During his two years as an administrator, he learned about failed marriages from other people.
âI have witnessed stories where after 15 years of separation, it is the husband who abandoned the wife who had his insurance,â he said.
âWe know of several cases where the woman was already beaten and this is still not a sufficient reason to cancel. You still have to prove that the man is psychologically incapable.
He called on lawmakers to hear their plight and respond to their call.
âWhy make it difficult to end irreparable marriages? The law of cancellation is different not because of the price but [because of] the process itself, âLuna said. “For me, that there be an annulment for the Church and have an option for a civil divorce [contract]. This is what we are asking for. â
Hontiveros, who chairs the Women’s Committee, called the meeting, which was attended by five major divorce advocacy groups, “historic.”
Citing early positive statements from her colleagues on the measure, she said she remained hopeful the bill would pass in the 18th Congress.
She hopes to start tackling the measure at the committee level by September.
âThis is about the right to a second chance for our women and our youth,â she said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
To subscribe to REQUEST MORE to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.