Pro-poor annulment bill explained

By Karen Galarpe,

Posted at Jan 18 2011 01:46 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2011 09:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party is hoping that House Bill 3952, the annulment bill he filed in Congress this week, will be passed by lawmakers.

In an interview on radio dzMM's "Tambalang Failon at Webb" on Tuesday, Colmenares said he hopes congressmen and senators will vote on the bill based on what the people need.

"Alam mo 'yung bills naman namin, sa tingin namin, pinapasa by the amount of support generated outside Congress. A large part depends on support from outside Congress. Kung merong mga magsabi na dapat talaga i-amend, I hope the Congress will vote according to what the people want rather than on their personal views on the matter," Colmenares said.

Colmenares filed the bill yesterday, January 17, and he said he hopes it will be scheduled for first reading soon.

House Bill 3952 seeks to amend Article 36 of the Family Code, which allows for the annulment of a marriage if one spouse is proven to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with the marital obligation "even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”

Expensive annulment

Colmenares noted that while this remedy is available by law, only the rich could avail of it since annulment proceedings can be very costly over time.

"Ang napansin ko kasi, masyadong mahaba at magastos para sa urban poor o mga mahihirap ang proceedings," Colmenares said.

To address this, Colmenares proposed House Bill 3952 which recognizes spousal violence, infidelity, and abandonment as presumptive psychological incapacity, which can be a ground for the annulment of a marriage.

"So ang ginawa ng bill, is may presumption siya--rebuttable presumption, hindi naman conclusive resumption--na 'pag ang cause ng kaso ay infidelity, abandonment at spousal violence, may presumption ng psychological incapacity. At 'pag di ni-rebut ng other party, ng respondent, the petitioner need not present a psychiatrist o psychologist or witnesses to prove na binubugbog na siya o psychologically incapacitated 'yung other spouse para mas mabilis na lang ang proceedings," Colmenares explained.

Psychiatrists, psychologists

He added that during annulment proceedings, judges require testimonies from psychiatrists or psychologists to prove a spouse's psychological incapacity.

This can be expensive as psychiatrists and psychologists need to perform exhaustive examinations. "Medyo mahal," he said.

"Kung hindi naman kinokontest ng asawa mo na binubugbog ka niya every week, bakit ka pa mag-ha-hire ng psychiatrist o psychologist to prove something na totoo naman at hindi contested? 'Yun ang purpose ng bill natin," Colmenares said.

Colmenares added that when Article 36 was passed during the time of President Corazon Aquino, it did not become a big issue. "Kasi may recognition na maraming kasal na, misfortune mo na makasal sa isang psychologically incapacitated spouse," he said.

"So I'm thinking na marami namang kongresista sa ngayon at sana may mga senador din, na mag-take ng bill na ito, na mag-recognize na marami ng may ganung kalagayan ngayon. Ngayon, may batas pero ang nakaka-avail lang as remedy 'yung medyo may pera. They have the capacity to hire a lawyer," Colmenares said.