Status of the PH divorce bill: it’s complicated

Illustration of the ANP by Meyo de Jesus

MANILA – While Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, not all love stories lead to a happy ending.

In many countries, divorce is the best way to end these nightmarish love affairs. However, this is not the case for Filipinos as the Philippines does not yet have a divorce law.

Measures to legalize divorce in the country, however, have been introduced by lawmakers.

On March 19, 2018, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Bill (HB) No.7303, which aims to legalize absolute divorce in the country, more than a decade after its introduction at the 13th Congress in 2005.

Divorce bills were also introduced by lawmakers in the 14th, 15th and 16th Congresses.

For the 15th Congress, the representative of Cagayan de Oro Rufus Rodriguez and the representative of Pangasinan Marlyn Primicias-Agabas sponsored HB 4368 which seeks to “harmonize” the family code “with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court on the divorce obtained by the foreign spouse in another country. “

The plenary of the House approved the said bill on September 26, 2012 and was received by the Senate on the same day.

Then the representative of the Gabriela Women’s Party, Luzviminda Ilagan, also introduced a bill to amend the Family Code and introduce divorce. The bill was referred to the Law Review Commission on January 26, 2011.

Five similar divorce bills were also introduced at the 16th Congress. The bill sponsored by Ilagan has been pending before the Committee on Population and Family Relations since May 20, 2014.

However, supporters of this measure face a powerful opponent: the Catholic Church.

Apart from the Philippines, Vatican City, an independent state ruled by the Pope, is the only country in the world without divorce but which allows annulment of marriages.

Perhaps it is Spain’s legacy to the country that even after the liberation of the Philippines from their colonization, the Filipinos embraced the Catholic faith, which until now has a great influence on the way of life of the country. and government policies.

The Church considers marriage a sacred vow and the Philippine Constitution supports it as an institution that must be protected. He firmly emphasizes that no man can break what God has unified through the sacrament of marriage.

While many lawmakers push for divorce laws around the country, their efforts are continually blocked by colleagues who hold conservative views on marriage and by the so-called “Catholic vote.”

An average of 53 percent of adult Filipinos nationwide support legalizing divorce for irreconcilably separated couples, based on Social Weather Stations surveys from March 25 to 28, 2017 and December 8 to 16, 2017.

The survey also showed a “very strong” clear concordance between women with a living partner, men with a living partner and widowed / separated men.

Pia Roces Morato, an advocate for the bill, said during the Philippine News Agency’s (PNA) pros and cons episode that she was defending the sanctity of marriage, but unfortunate events brought her on cancellation.

“I admit it’s painful but it’s worth it. You don’t get married without love. But it just didn’t work (for us), ”she added.

Present the options

Currently, the only legal remedy available to Filipinos who wish to leave a failed union is an annulment or a request for legal separation. These two options have different reasons and end results.

Cancellation is a costly and time-consuming legal battle, especially if one of the parties does not cooperate and opposes the petition.

For the annulment to be granted, the questions must have occurred before the wedding, since the annulment annuls the marriage.

For example, an annulment shows that the wedding did not take place in the first place. Psychological incapacity, mistaken identity and being a minor are some of the reasons why an annulment can be granted.

Still from the For and Against episode, Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine Public Affairs Committee, noted that the government has neglected ways to strengthen a weakening marriage.

He also cited that Catholic law allows for the nullity of marriage.

Mai legal proseso din naman an simbahan. Santo Papa’s message is the simplest and the easiest is to program for mapadali and proseso (The Church has a legal procedure [that nullifies marriage]. In fact, the Pope simplified the program to speed up the process), ”added Secillano.

Gabriela’s representative, Arlene Brosas, replied: “Yung hinahnap was lucky to have new fighters with him legal option – divorce. Naniniwala tayo na hindi ito ang end everything, ngunit hindi naman makakasagabal sa mga happy marriages (Those who anticipate the passage of this bill are looking for a legal option – divorce. While we believe this should not be the end, it is by no means an obstacle for those who are anyway. happy married couples). ”

Senate Bill 2134 or Divorce Law of 2018 was tabled in the Senate last January.

Under the bill, absolute divorce can be obtained under the following conditions: physical violence or manifestation of “manifestly abusive behavior”, psychological incapacity, irreconcilable marital disputes despite efforts at reconciliation, marital rape and separation from one another. at least five years, among others.

It will also penalize the spouse who is found to have used force or intimidation to compel the other spouse to file the petition. (ANP)

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