Duterte-Alvarez behavior will fuel passage of a divorce law



First read
THIS piece will strike some readers as inconsistent with the earlier position I took on the consequences of the sexual behavior of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and President Rodrigo Duterte, which in a nutshell constituted a defense of marriage as an institution.

This Lent, I am convinced, is a good time for the nation to reflect seriously on the status of marriage in our society, and the practicality and wisdom of keeping the Philippines one of only two states in the world — along with the Vatican — that still forbids the divorce of married couples under its laws.

Living proof of marital mortality
In a striking and telling irony, the exposure of the Speaker’s and the President’s serial adultery and chauvinist behavior towards women is fueling a serious effort to galvanize advocacy and debate of the legislative bill for the legalization of divorce. This time, I predict that the discussion will go beyond just the position of the Catholic Church on the issue. This time, discussion will be searching and profound, and it will not stop until we have found an availing answer to the social problem of relationships and marriages that fail.

As if to show how bizarre our country has become, female legislators are pouncing on the indiscretions and infidelities of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, not to extol the importance of marriage and marital commitment, but to persuade him to support a legislative bill in the Congress for the legalization of divorce in the country. They consider the frailties of Alvarez, as well as those of President Duterte, as a signal opportunity to demand that they support passage of a divorce law.

They would paradoxically turn the failed partners of marriages into the instrument to destroy marriage as an institution, since they are living proof of the mortality of marital union.

This is only slightly more bizarre than the spectacle of two top officials of the republic publicly boasting about their having girlfriends aside from their wives and children by different women.

Gabriela divorce bill
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas declared last Monday, April 3, that it is time for Congress to pass a divorce law following the revelation of Speaker Alvarez that he has a girlfriend outside marriage, and that he has fathered eight children, six of them by women other than his wife.

Gabriela, which is part of the seven-member Makabayan bloc, is aligned with Speaker Alvarez in his supermajority coalition in the House.

During the “Ugnayan sa Batasan” forum at the House, Brosas said that with the cat out of the bag, Alvarez should now include in his legislative agenda her bill proposing to legalize divorce in the country.

She underscored the fact that the Philippines and the Vatican are now the only states in the world wherein divorce is prohibited.

Conditions for divorce
Under Brosas’ House Bill 2380, a couple may enter into divorce if at least one of the following conditions is met:

1.The petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least 5 years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;

2. The petitioner has been legally separated from the spouse for at least 2 years at the time of the filing and reconciliation is highly improbable.

3.When any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;

4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;

5. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey in 2014 found three of five Filipinos surveyed favoring divorce.

Brosas says that the existing legal remedies, such as legal separation and annulment of marriage, constitute a tedious and costly process, which would even require the services of a psychologist. Divorce, in contrast, would serve as a quick-fix solution for estranged couples, as it is now in most countries.

Despite the opportunistic appeal to Alvarez, Gabriela, ever the militant group, slammed the speaker for “flaunting” his affairs as if having an extramarital affair is “ordinary and acceptable.”

The Brosas bill has found support from an administration congressman, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who concurs that it is time for the country to allow couples with irreconcilable differences to have a legal remedy to separate.

Public consequences of private life
After further reflection, reading and research on the issue of how private life impinges on public life, I am now inclined to revise my original stand on the issue of the sexual behavior of public officials.

I do so for the following reasons:

First, I have found reason to be skeptical that by drawing a red line in our public life on the issue of adultery and paternity of many children by different women, we will thereby improve national politics and public service. In fact, we already have a line in the sand, via the Family Code and the Revised Penal Code; but they have not made our public officials more devoted to their spouses.

Second, I have found plenty of material on “the public consequences of private life,” to support the view that society should not allow the argument of privacy to exclude the examination of a person’s sexual behavior in assessing his or her fitness to govern. Private life does have consequences.

The personal is political
The case of former Senator Gary Hart, a candidate for the US presidency, is an emblematic example of how a public figure’s adultery and private morality made him unfit to govern. He had to quit his presidential run in disgrace.

It’s useful to study the feminist dictum, “the personal is political,” and how it applies in the discussion of this issue. The statement, attributed to one feminist, is a powerful reply to those who say private sins do not interfere in the performance of public duties.

Turning to the prospect of a divorce law being passed by the 17th Congress, I believe our legislators will come to realize over the next few years that it is really wise and necessary to bring the country in step with all humanity.



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  1. Please enlighten me, why the conditions? When husband and wife wants to end the marriage contract why should there be a conditions for filing divorce?

  2. The reality is that there are many broken marriages in the Philipppines, couples carry on with new partners and families without the merit of being remarried and their children with new partners not legally recognized because of the absence of divorce. There are couples who married in the Philippines and live abroad then divorce in the foreign land and yet still be married in the Philippines. Values and norms have changed within the realm of the Philippine society. People say one thing and do another. Anti-divorce Catholic minions are plain hypocrites who hide murky secrets in their closets and live life with a holier-than-thou aura.

  3. Mr. Yen, you are absolutely right about bringing the country in step with the rest of the world. Presently, LGBT exist openly in the Philippine society, and even the Pope accepted and welcomed them as children of God. Only hypocrites and very low IQ Filipinos (male and female) are against the divorce law and it seems like it is beyond their grasp or comprehension. They are talking about pre-marital sex as a mortal sin, and how about having sex with the same gender and NOT in a natural way? Here is the bottom line : The Roman Catholic Church will be campaigning hard against any proposed divorce law. Legislators, male and females, that will not support a divorce law legislation are hypocrites as well.

  4. if a child brought up to a broken family chances are he/she will end up just like their parents. No to divorce!!

    • You are saying it’s much healthier for a child to be in a home where the parents hate each other ? It’s better for the child to witness physical abuse of his mother ?

      It’s better for a child to be raised in a home with constant arguing ?

      It’s better for a child to wonder why their father spends his time with his girlfriend instead of his family ?

      It’s better for the child when Daddy spends the family money trying to impress his girlfriend or spending it taking care of his girlfriend ?

      Forget university kids, Daddy has girlfriends.

    • Aphetsky Lasa on

      And keep pretending that there is nothing wrong between you and your spouse. And you can live with that. You must be a saint.There is no point in sharing the same house when the two spouses do not share mutual feelings for each other. Break the tie already. I digress.

      Parents could still be there for their kids, even if they are divorced, to support them. A home is broken only when both parents abandon, not only the home but also, the children. One responsible parent is enough to nurture and educate a family.

  5. Christianity is monotheist and monogamous. God was angry when his people of old asked that they also have a physical king just like the other nations around them and so from then on Israel had a series of oppressive kings that even led them to commit many sins against God, foremost is their idolatry. Further on, God permitted polygamy only because of their hard headedness. So let us be careful of what we are asking for. May be this is not even a case of majority notoriety unless the Duterte and Alvarez promiscuity cases are proven otherwise as common manly psyche. I believe most Filipino fathers (model father) still believe in sexual responsibility. Even assuming that philandering husbands (father na mahilig sa model) has now become the norm than the exception, must we condone its practice though we know it destroys the family as the basic unit of society?

  6. Unless we want to get branded as a nation with half-baked set of values, thus nurturing (national) leaders who’re even renegades re their private sexual sorties with fans’ applause as background, we’d rather lend serious thought about treating divorce as the appropriate pill for our private-life-social-life disjunction. Last time, Mr. Yen, I commented that seemingly our valued integrity principle seems to get watered down. Consequently, word of honor has practically lost meaning as per marital vow and contract. The saying, “ex abundantia cordis os loquitur” (from the heart’s abundance the mouth speaks) points to the abiding connect between what we are inside and outside. Integrity! What, really is the problem with us!…. Will it be hard to connect between our behavior as a nation (with minimal integrity) and our standing before the community of nations? I can’t help shuddering at the thought!

  7. You are making a fallacy of the fact the country has been known as the only Catholic country in the Far East.

    Have you considered the effects of divorce in countries like the US, the disintegration of families and the effects on children of divorce. Why make it easier for husbands to stray from their vows, although the prevalence of extramarital offenses is a reality already. Why make it much easier? We should instead have laws to strengthen marriage rather than destroy it. The public should not condone the immoral actions of Alvarez and Duterte. We should demand that they set good examples to the public and not flaunt their immoral behavior. We could do that by driving them out of office.

    • Why make it much easier?

      It wont make it easier, there will be consequences for disrespecting their wife if there is divorce.

      In a divorce, the assets of the family are divided 50-50 and the wife and kids are supported in a manner they are accustomed to, which means usually Mom gets primary custody of the children, Mom gets the house and at least one car.
      The kids carry on going to the same school, the only thing that changes is Daddy has to leave.
      Daddy gets to continue to pay the mortgage and car payments and provide child support payments every month.

      It’s really life changing (money wise) for the husband and something to think about before they decide to ruin the relationship.

      Infidelity is not a lack of love
      Infidelity is a lack of respect.

  8. The only problem is it’s the congress who have to pass such a law which they will never do.

    Congress exists to enrich themselves, passing a divorce law will enable the wife’s to finally leave their cheating husbands who spend family money on their girlfriends and take half of everything including the money and property that their husbands hid.

    Half baby, Cya

    • @Nelscruz

      Agreed, Most of the congress stole the pork barrel funds which totaled billions and it’s common practice in the Philippines to put the stolen money and property in some other name which seems enough to fool what passes for law enforcement in the country.

      With a divorce law this stolen wealth will be exposed