MANILA, Philippines - A referendum halfway across the world and the resurrection of a bill languishing in Congress for years suddenly brought the debate on divorce in the Philippines at the forefront once again, and Pinoys on the internet are buzzing with their opinion on the matter.
On Monday, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan announced that the House of Representatives' Committee on Revision of Laws will take up House Bill 1799, or the proposed Divorce Bill of the Philippines, on Wednesday.
Ilagan’s bill is the first of 2 divorce measures pending before the 15th Congress. Ilagan filed her bill in July 2010, while Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a similar bill just last March.
Ilagan's announcement came just hours after Malta overwhelmingly approved, in a referendum, a divorce law, leaving the Philippines the only country aside from the Vatican, without a divorce law.
The announcement immediately set off a barrage of comments on social networking sites, as well as on ABS-CBN News Online - and, like the similarly controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, Pinoys seem to be divided on the matter.
Yes, no, maybe
Many netizens on Twitter said the reintroduction of divorce into the Philippine legal system is about time.
On Twitter, numerous people tweeted about divorce being the solution for people to be free from abusive and unhappy marriages.
On the abs-cbnNEWS.com page on Facebook, several netizens said the proposal is timely.
Doris Zontua agreed to legalizing divorce, saying, "Ang mag asawang hinde din naman nagkakasundo at madalas mag away mas maganda pang mag diborsiyo kesa sa nakikita ng kanilang anak ang araw araw nilang pag tutuos. Anong leksiyon ang matutunan ng bata sa kani kanilang magulang. Di ba sa bandang huli ang anak din nila ang mag su-suffer. Pero ang mga bata ngayong panahon na ito mas mautak pa kesa sa matatanda."
On Twitter, even some personalities joined the discussion.
And surely, there were netizens who opposed the proposal.
Some of those opposed to the proposal said divorce will only lead to couples not trying enough to solve their problems.
On the other hand, user "Bongards," on abs-cbnNEWS.com, said the divorce law will only be used by unscrupulous lawyers wanting to get rich quick.
"Lawyers and Judges are making thousands if not millions out of it, just simply play around, complainant wait for years and mostly end up nothing," the commenter said.
Commenter "pro-philippines", meanwhile, said that marriage is a "lifetime decision."
"Dapat bago magpakasal siguraduhin mo na sya talaga ang mahal mo at sakanya mo ibibgay ang buong buhay mo," the commenter said.
The involvement of the Church in the divorce debate was also a topic that cropped up online.
abs-cbnNEWS.com commenter "Sheepish" said the bill won't pass because "the Catholic Church won't allow it."
"RH Bill pa lang puro kontra na, Divorce pa? Lumang tugtugin na yan. Progress will only happen once religions (not only the Catholic) stop meddling with government affairs," the commenter said.
On TV Patrol's text poll on Monday, 58% of respondents voted "Yes" to legalization of divorce, while 42% said "No."
Meanwhile, some cautioned fellow Filipinos to read the proposed bill before reacting.
Others, like Twitter use vingutierrez, suggested that other bills should be tackled first.
Another commenter on abs-cbnNEWS.com, "Psylom," suggested that instead of divorce, marriage laws should be made stricter.
'Instead of a Divorce Law, maybe mas magandang higpitan ang pagpapakasal... to make sure na lahat ng magpapakasal ay sigurado at handa sa papasukin nila," the commenter said.
One even tweeted to suggest a referendum to see the real sentiment of the people on the issue.