The bill legalizing divorce in the country does not mean ending marriages based on whims of the couple, a veteran lawmaker said on Friday.
Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, an author of the Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage bill, was responding to long-standing criticisms that the measure approved by the House Committee on Population and Family Development this week will destroy families.
Lagman cited expanded grounds for divorce and affordability as compared with the existing annulment proceedings, which cost as much as P250,000 based on the public consultations conducted by the House panel.
He said the bill mandates the Office of the Public Prosecutor to conduct investigations to determine whether there is collusion between spouses in a petition for absolute divorce.
In addition, the office will be required to report its findings to the proper court within six months from filing of the petition.
“The absolute divorce bill does not allow a drive-thru, no-contest or quick divorces. The bill unequivocally provides that no decree of absolute divorce shall be based on a stipulation of facts or confession of judgment which is a prohibition on a no-contest divorce,” Lagman said in a statement.
He noted that the divorce bill imposes stiff penalties of five years’ imprisonment and P200,000 fine on a spouse who coerces the other into filing a petition for divorce as well as on colluding spouses.
“Coerced petitions and convenient collusions are prohibited,” Lagman said.
“The provisions stated above uphold the State’s commitment to protect marriage as a social institution. Divorce is an exception for irremediably broken and lost marriages, and the State has a continuing mandate to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and foundation of the family,” the head of the Technical Working Group that consolidated all pending divorce bills added.
Among the grounds for absolute divorce include: marital infidelity, which is committed by having a child with another person other than one’s spouse during the marriage, except when a child is born through in-vitro fertilization or similar procedure, or when the wife bears a child after being a victim of rape; physical abuse against the petitioner, a common child or child of the petitioner; physical violence to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation; and attempt to induce the petitioner, a common child or child of the petitioner to prostitution.