MANILA, Philippines - Authors of the Divorce Bill at the House of Representatives on Tuesday welcomed the idea of a referendum to feel the pulse of the public on their proposed measure.
Gabriela Party-List Rep. Luz Ilagan replied, "Why not?" when she was asked if they would support a referendum on divorce, similar to Sunday's referendum in Malta which saw citizens voting in favor of the measure.
Moves to enact a divorce law in the Philippines gained traction after Malta's referendum.
Malta's referendum, though non-binding, is expected to pave the way for passage of the a divorce law in that area. If that were to happen, the Philippines would be the only country left without a divorce law.
Ilagan, however, hoped this would not become another contentious issue with the Catholic Church. "We dont want it to be bloody. This is legitimate, [there are] valid reasons kasi 13th Congress pa ito. Ngayon nga lang umabot na sa committee level," referring to the Committee on Revision of Laws ' hearing on the bill Wednesday.
Gabriela's bill is one of 2 divorce measures in the House. The other was authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, which seeks to recognize divorces granted overseas.
Rodriguez's bill amends the Family Code of the Philippines to require that a divorce obtained by an alien spouse of Filipino overseas only needs to be authenticated by the Philippine consul in the country where it was granted for it to be effective here in the Philippines.
It also seeks to amend another provision in the Family Code to say that all divorces overseas for marriages solemnized overseas are also valid here in the Philippines.
In lobbying for her bill, Ilagan stressed the need for divorce in the country, citing the difficulty of availing an annulment despite the graveness of the grounds for dissolution of a marriage.
Lobbying for RH bill
Meanwhile, Gabriela held a picket at the House of Representatives grounds to lobby for the passage of their other pet measure: the equally controversial Reproductive Health bill.
Ilagan, fellow Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmy de Jesus, and Gabriela members Jessica Rufin and KJ Catequista and HEAD member Beng Rivera Reyes called on Congress to pass the RH Bill.
They stressed that RH is a matter of women's rights and health, not population control. They are seeking to remove provisions in the RH Bill on population control.
The group recognized that population or demographic targets were thrown out of the bill, and desired family size was made neither mandatory nor compulsory.
However, they cited remaining provisions in the bill (Sections 3(l), 12, and 25) that promote population control, especially Section 12 . This to them "unabashedly states that family planning and responsible parenthood be integrated in anti-poverty programs."
"Unguardedly, this provision can release the floodgate for the State to carry out its population control program under the guise of pro-choice and poverty alleviation. Also, allowing the notorious Population Commission under section 25 to serve as coordinating body in implementing the bill once it becomes law underscores the State's intent in pushing for population control," the group said.