MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines believes failed marriages cannot be used as an argument to pass a divorce law, saying divorce only encourages a married couple to no longer work out their differences.
In a statement, CBCP president and Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas took exception to a statement of Sen. Pia Cayetano that the Philippines having no divorce law is nothing to be proud of.
"To that, I hasten to add: Neither is it something for which we should be apologetic! That all countries of the world save ours have [a divorce law] is no compelling reason to have it," Villegas said.
Villegas said the reasons being advanced for a divorce law fail to convince since the reasons only prove that only mature people should enter into marriage.
He said that if a spouse is oppressive and cruel, a woman could avail of legal separation or annulment of voidable marriages. He said nullity of marriage because of psychological incapacity is also available under the Constitution.
The CBCP president said one reason why some people are advancing a divorce law is because they want "another go at marriage" despite failing at first. He likened the situation to a person test-driving a car and then getting a replacement if the first car proves unsatisfactory.
"It is plainly dehumanizing to both spouses to allow for a test-run, through a first marriage, and then grant the possibility of a replacement of spouses should the test fail," he said.
"Divorce is a deterrent to working on differences. Marriage is and ought to be a work in progress...When the expedient of divorce is readily available, a couple will be less likely to work on differences, dialogue and reasonably work out solutions because there is a quick fix to 'incompatibilities.'"
Villegas said legalizing divorce would mean partners can just give a token effort to making a marriage work since the possibility of ending the union through divorce is already offered by the State.
He also said setting forth grounds for divorce is a tricky business "because it assumes that one is in a position to grade degrees of misery or difficulty, and to say of some that they are worthy of the 'relief' of divorce while others are not."
"A divorce law will either grant divorce on any ground – in which case marriage becomes a mockery – or on some grounds. But if it is granted on some grounds, irreconcilable differences, for example, who is to say that a person is more greatly challenged by irreconcilable differences than by the snoring of a spouse at night?"
House Bill 4408, the divorce bill filed in the 16th Congress by Gabriela party-list Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmy de Jesus, has five grounds for divorce:
- the petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least 5 years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
-the petitioner has been legally separated from the spouse for at least 2 years at the time of the filing 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;
-when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage
Among the grounds for legal separation in the bill are:
-repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct against the petitioner, a common child or child of the petitioner;
-physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
-attempt of the respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
-final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than 6 years even if pardoned;
-drug addiction or habitual alcoholism;
- lesbianism or homosexuality;
-contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage whether in the Philippines or abroad;
-sexual infidelity or perversion;
- attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner and abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than 1 year.