#Eleksyon2016: Divorce and freedom


TRIGGERED by The Rundown 2016, an ABS-CBN News Channel and UP Economic Society program that aired live on January 29, here is another issue that one must take into consideration when deciding whom to vote for. The Rundown asked the first batch of its senatorial candidates about their stand on divorce, and to have had only one senatorial candidate say ‘yes’ to divorce among the many who were present, is just utterly disappointing.

Of course the show’s format was such that the second batch of senatorial candidates was not asked the same questions as the first batch, which makes one wonder: how do you choose among these candidates when we don’t ask them about the same issues?

Kapunan as the only one
From the first batch of senators who spoke at The Rundown, only one categorically stated that she was for no-fault divorce in the country: Atty. Lorna Kapunan.

“Ilang beses ba ninyo naisip na lasunin ang kape ng asawa ninyo? Sapagkat ang ating annulment law ay hindi madali. Alam ni Atty. Legarda na kapag pumunta kayo sa isang abogado, hindi mababa sa P100,000 pesos ang gastos diyan,” she said. She also lamented how psychological incapacity, which is really the only ground accepted for an annulment case has been used and abused: “Yung maliit na kasalanan pinapalaki.”

And then it became clear that as far as the rest of these senatorial candidates were concerned, the issue was really about the use of the word ‘divorce,’ one that has a social stigma attached to it, but also a word that is seen sacrificing our belief in marriage. Kapunan hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that annulment is divorce, just more difficult, just more expensive, just more violent in its insistence that a marriage never existed: “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, fucks like a duck, then it is a duck.”

No divorce, no freedom
The male senatorial candidates, namely Sherwin Gatchalian, Miguel Zubiri and Roman Romulo, echoed one another, saying they did not believe in divorce because they believed in the sanctity of marriage.

Good for them. But their beliefs should not blind them to the fact that for many of us, marriages have become mistakes to which we are tied down, mistakes that spell our un-freedom.

And lest we’ve forgotten, freedom is a fundamental right.

Susan Ople tried and failed to save herself, when she said that her issue was really only with the word divorce. “I think when you say the word divorce, there’s a stigma in our culture. I want to look at it from the Philippine culture. Yung Filipino values paano mo maipapasok do’n?”

But the mutual decision to separate from each other, or the decision of one party to live with another person other than the spouse – those are Filipino practices that already exist, that may not be acceptable to many, but which are already happening on the ground. There are couples that decide quietly and calmly that they are not for each other anymore; there are men who find themselves already living in with someone other than their wife, and wives get over the infidelity all the time and move on.

In instances like this, what we are seek is really our freedom from this piece of paper that insists we are in a relationship with someone we have not seen in years, if not decades. It is in instances like this that we would like for our estranged husbands to stop using our names as tax deductions. It is in instances like this that we wish to get back our maiden names, because what is more oppressive than being stuck with a name that’s not yours?

That piece of paper insists that I am in a relationship with a person who has not had anything to do with me the past seven years. Yet, that piece of paper says nothing about my individual survival and struggle to earn my keep all those past seven years. It says nothing about the happiness – his and mine – achieved separately, to which certainly we both have a right.

My right to a happy ending
All the other senatorial candidates here, other than Kapunan, had asserted annulment to be enough. They all said that the answer to the call for a divorce law should be to make the process of getting an annulment easier.

But that misses the point entirely. I do not want to have to say that the marriage never happened; and if I had a child, I wouldn’t want her to be called illegitimate by virtue of a marriage rendered null and void. I also do not want to have to invent things in order to say that either of us were psychologically incapacitated, a discovery we made only when we got married.

A no-fault divorce, as Kapunan has asserted, would mean not going through the blame game, not pinning fault on anyone. Divorce – not annulment as it is currently defined by the law – would allow for the most painless process for children, as it would allow for a calm and peaceful process of separating cleanly from one’s spouse, one’s past.

And this is the thing really that our senatorial candidates don’t get: it’s easy to talk about marriages that work, it’s easy to imagine that sometimes all it takes is to stick it out and work through differences, and sure, happy endings are fantastic. But these do not, cannot happen for everyone.

And sometimes the ‘happiest-ever-after’ is only possible when we are freed from that piece of paper that insists we are still married, when we have ceased to be so for years and have forged a life that is productive and creative and happy without the other.

Certainly the senators who deserve our votes are those to whom our individual happiness and freedom are all important, too?


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  1. The politicians will never vote for divorce,
    What would happen when the wife files for divorce and wants half the assets ?
    She might know where the bank accounts and properties held in dummy corporations are and expose the politicians corruption.

    Can’t have that now can we.

  2. My suggestion is to avoid marriage if you can. Now after living in one house for a few years, then decide if marriage is good for you. So no divorce and no annulment. The reason is stability. Marriage is a relationship for future stability and not a life of being divorce for a number of reason and instability knowing that your husband or your wife can leave you at anytime. Marriage is sacred for me. It is not an idea that you like it now and you do not like it later.

  3. I can’t believe that the issue of divorce remains a taboo in our country when all our surroundings have taken the issue into light. Everyone but the Philippines has a divorce law, a law that gives a breathing space for those who were stuck in a failed relationship. Whether we like it or not, not all marriages work for the good. The reality in the Philippines says it all. Many couples have been separated for years without legal course to unbind themselves. The Census should include in their survey on how many families have been living apart to determine the number so the government can study and find a way to address it. These senator wannabees are nothing but hypocrites. I will not vote them coming election.

  4. Carlos de Castro on

    Divorce is very easy to get especially here in my place in Las Vegas.when I was an OFW in Saipan it came to me several times because I wanted a convenient marriage to a local to erase the ofw but you know Katrina when I look at the face of my three sons I felt like being guilty to the teeth. One time recently when I have my yearly vacation in Santa Rosa, Laguna my eldest approach me and confess that her love to his wife now seem to be gone and that’s there is somebody around who wants to take over. I told my son after twenty years of marriage your love to your wife will surely be cut a little bit but it will go to your family or stay within the family. He got 2 girls and one boy and he seems to listen. Katrina , I married the most beautiful girl, in the bank 47 years ago and until now I am married to the family although there is this thing called WHERE LOVE HAS GONE. So stay closely Folks, love is still around,. Look at what you have done to your family and BINGO YOU are in love again to your very lovely wife.

  5. mikhail hieronymus on

    It is but logical on the point of view of human relationship that individuals should have a mechanism wherein both party can get out of a faulty relationship. There is however a very big stumbling block that prevent candidates or lawmakers to formulate such mechanism.

    Religion, more empathically the Catholic religion as we all know, is very much against divorce. It is not coincidental that most candidates or lawmakers are Catholic. Those same individuals are in the belief that their electability will be greatly affected if they go against the wishes of the church. This is the real dilemma.

  6. Certainly the senators who deserve our votes are those to whom our individual happiness and freedom are all important, too?

    That would be a big fat NO. Senators and Representatives only care about laws that effect them which is probably why they will never pass a effective anti dynasty law or a freedom of information law as well. Not passing a divorce law binds their spouses to them forever no matter how monstrous they become. When the politicians are all engaged in extra marital affairs what would happen if their spouse was allowed to file for divorce ?

    That is the main reason politicians won’t support a divorce law. they are all cheaters who violate their marriage vows and a divorce law would hold them accountable to their spouse and everyone knows politicians don’t want to be accountable.