August 21, 2021 | 00h00
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is expected to swiftly approve the bill allowing absolute divorce in the country over strong objections from several lawmakers, a supporter said.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the main authors of the latest divorce bill, believes the chamber will be able to pass the controversial and much contested measure at third and final reading before the adjournment of the 18th current Congress next year.
He cited the support of the House leadership, in particular Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, for the immediate passage of the bill.
“In Congress, once the leaders of both chambers approve a measure, it can be passed quickly. As far as the House is concerned, there is now a signal from the President to speed up this bill because no less than the President has introduced some perfecting amendments, ”he told“ The Chiefs ”on One News last Thursday evening.
Specific changes introduced by Velasco were provisions on court-assisted petitioners, community prenuptial and post-marital programs, community women’s offices to provide assistance and support to victims of violence and abuse, and language of abuse. appropriation for the bill.
The congressional veteran explained that the House will have enough time to pass the bill in plenary before focusing on the 2022 national budget and other pandemic response measures.
Lagman, who led the technical task force that drafted the replacement bill, expressed hope that the Senate would also prioritize the measure once it is passed by the House – just like this that happened in the equally controversial reproductive health law.
He defended the rapid adoption of the measure at the commission level, which was contested by Vice-Presidents Lito Atienza and Eddie Villanueva. He cited House rules that allow committee approval at a hearing of bills already passed by the chamber at third and final reading in the previous Congress – much like the divorced.
“The committee has not committed any slippage, that is to say, approving with deplorable eagerness of a measure contrary to the rules and / or without in-depth deliberation. It took more than two years for the committee to approve the replacement bill, ”he said.
He assured critics that the measure would not provide for a “driving divorce” and “will only restore the absolute divorce that was already practiced in the pre-Spanish era, the American colonial period and during the Japanese occupation”.
Lagman explained that the proposed law would allow couples whose marriages have failed to “regain their humanity, their self-respect and the freedom from hopelessly failed marriages and totally dysfunctional unions.”
He lamented that the Philippines is now the only country in the world to outlaw absolute divorce, with the exception of the almost 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. Wrong 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, ”Lagman said.
Under this measure, the existing grounds for legal separation, marriage annulment and marriage annulment based on psychological incapacity under the Philippine Family Code are included as grounds for absolute divorce.
These grounds are modified to cover the causes occurring after the marriage ceremony.
The bill includes other grounds for divorce: de facto separation for at least five years at the time of filing the final divorce petition; 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; other forms of domestic or conjugal violence which are also defined in the bill; valid foreign divorce obtained by foreign or Filipino spouse and marriage annulled by recognized religious court.