House panel approves absolute divorce bill, now for plenary debate

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MANILA, Philippines – The proposed measure to restore absolute divorce as an alternative method of dissolving marriage is now under discussion in plenary in the House of Representatives.

This developed after the House Committee on Population and Family Relations unanimously approved the still unnumbered replacement bill at its Tuesday meeting.

Albay representative Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the measure, said the bill stipulates that justifications for legal separation, annulment of marriage and annulment of marriage based on a psychological disability under the Philippine Family Code are included as grounds for absolute divorce.

The other grounds for divorce are as follows:

  • de facto separation for at least five years at the time of the filing of the final divorce request;
  • when one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment operation or switches from one sex to the other;
  • irreconcilable marital disputes as defined in the bill;
  • domestic or conjugal violence;
  • valid foreign divorce obtained by foreign or Filipino spouse; and;
  • a marriage annulled by a recognized religious court

Lagman said outright divorce would void a couple’s marital union and allow them to remarry.

“This bill re-establishes absolute divorce because absolute divorce was already practiced in pre-Spanish times, the American colonial period and during the Japanese occupation,” he said in his sponsorship speech.

Additionally, Lagman pointed out that the Philippines is the only country in the world to ban absolute divorce, with the exception of Vatican City State.

“It is hard to believe that all other countries have collectively erred in instituting absolute divorce with varying degrees of liberality and limitations,” he said.

“A mass blunder is beyond comprehension. Wrong unanimity on such a crucial family institution defies reason and experience. Obviously, the rest of the world cannot be wrong about the universality of absolute divorce, ”he added.

KGA

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