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Til Divorce Do Us Part: Is PHL Ready For Divorce Law?

In a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines, the legalization of divorce sparked debates among its people. Arguments have been presented by various groups either to merit or demerit the bill that seeks to allow absolute divorce or dissolution of marriage in the country.

Senator Rissa Hontiveros, principal author of Senate Bill 356 said it will make divorce available to those “who want second chances in love, to rebuild their families and start all over again.”

What the Church says

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) acknowledged marital problems but given the legal processes available in the country such as legal separation and annulment, divorce is no longer necessary.

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The CBCP-Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA) executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano said that “divorce can never be pro-marriage, pro-family and pro-children.”

“We have to emphasize that marriage isn’t cheap. Family is precious. Being together, that’s valuable and that is inherent in our culture as a family, as Filipinos, that we are closely knit, that we also have to be resilient, notwithstanding the many storms and calamities, whether literal or metaphorical. We are made to be resilient, and so families, as well as couples, should take the lead in really fighting for their marriages and togetherness, ” said Atty. Aldwin Salumbides of the Coalition of Concerned Families of the Philippines, during an interview on ANC on Tuesday, September 24.

Let divorce be a choice

Kana Takahashi of the Maya: The Feminist Collective believed otherwise. According to her, divorce should give people a choice. Coming from divorced parents herself, Takahashi is convinced that divorce is for people who need it particularly by women who are victims of domestic violence, and for children who bear witnesses to their parents’ hopeless marriage.

“The Divorce Bill is pro-marriage, pro-family and pro-children. It makes us respect marriage more by being more discerning with our choices in life. It protects children from abuse and rebuilds broken families, ” Hontiveros said.

“However, I also believe that Filipinos, especially women and their children, should have the right to turn the page and be free from abusive and loveless relationships. Buo ang aking simpatiya at suporta sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na napakaraming kababaihang biktima ng domestic violence at psychological abuse, ” she added.

Hontiveros is the chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

Freedom cost

Presently, the Filipinos with irremediable marriages resort to legal separation and annulment. Legal separation does not allow the parties to remarry, while annulment allows remarriage. Both legal processes are costly.

Annulment proceedings may cost about P200,000. Annulment invalidates a marriage.

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Takahashi said people does not resort to divorce to remarry. “Just like annulment, legal separation, just like any legislation that has been passed by the Congress, there are grounds. So it won’t be, couples won’t get divorced just because I want another man, or my dad wants another woman. That’s not the case. We have grounds, we have rules to follow, we have the law to follow.”

Divorce remains illegal both in the Philippines and Vatican City where 70 percent of men are celibate.

Source: ABS-CBN News

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