DIVORCE advocates trooped to the House of Representatives Wednesday to restart a campaign to legislate divorce in the Philippines, the only country in the world aside from Vatican City-State where the dissolution of the marriage bond is not allowed.
Lobby groups Divorce Advocates of the Philippines and Association for Divorce and Women Empowerment expect the 17th Congress to be “kinder to the passage of the bill,” the Gabriela party-list, which filed the divorce bill for the fifth time on Wednesday, said in a statement.
Gabriela Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas reiterated that the divorce bill was long overdue.
“It is high time that the state give couples in abusive and irreparable marriages the option to divorce. We hope that this time, both Houses of Congress will finally approve the Divorce Bill,” the party-list group said.
The Gabriela bill, House Bill 2380, provides five grounds for divorce:
• the petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
• the petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
• when any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;
• when one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and
• when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable
breakdown of the marriage.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier filed his own version of the divorce bill.
Brosas cited surveys showing public support for divorce.
“Three of every five Filipinos or at least 60 percent are in favor of the legislation of divorce. This shows only not just the public pulse but the de facto need for the option of divorce to be given,” she said.
“Divorce is also not an entirely new concept in the Philippines since this has been a remedy given for couples in irreparable marriages even during the American period,” she added.
Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo of Marikina however said the country was not yet ready for divorce, and marriage annulment procedures should first be made accessible to the poor and victims of physical abuse.
Quimbo wants Article 36 of the Family Code amended because this provision states that a marriage can only be annulled when “any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”
“Article 36 is very anti-poor. It favors the rich because you need to have access to great lawyers; set aside time to go to court to have your marriages annulled. The annulment of marriages should become accessible to the poor,” he said.
Psychological incapacity is limited to refusal of one party to dwell with the other after the marriage ceremony, without fault of the other party; refusal or inability of the party primarily obligated to give support to the other or to their common children through causes other than his or her voluntary intent, desire or laziness; or when either party or both of them labor under an affliction that makes common life as husband and wife impossible or unbearable, such as compulsive gambling or unbearable jealousy or other psychic or psychological causes.
“The country is not ready to tackle absolute divorce where people can separate simply by their own wishes. I would say we should amend our laws to aid those in marriages who are imprisoned in abusive relationships such as those who are physically abused; those married to someone who is not a good father or mother,” Quimbo said.
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro of Capiz said marriage is a lifelong commitment.
“I don’t believe in divorce because I believe that we should always stand up for what we swore before God and law,” Castro said.
“If we have absolute divorce, marriage would just be a game that you can quit anytime and reduced to a past time,” he added.