MANILA - Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed an "absolute divorce" bill in the Upper Chamber despite President Duterte's refusal to support a counterpart measure in the House of Representatives.
Under Hontiveros' Senate Bill 2134 known as the "Divorce Act of 2018," couples may file for legal separation if the marriage is marred by "physical violence and grossly abusive conduct."
"It has been well-documented that the absence of a divorce law has had disproportionate effects on women who are more often victims of abuse within marriages, and who are forced to remain in joyless and unhealthy unions because of the dearth of legal options," Hontiveros said.
"Studies have shown that breaking free from such unions and being given a fresh start result in improved health outcomes for women,” she said.
Hontiveros' proposal also cites "psychological incapacity of either spouse," "irreconcilable marital differences," marital rape, and being "separated for at least 5 years" as grounds for divorce.
"Studies likewise show that it is not divorce that creates well-being issues for children, it is bearing witness to the troubled marriages of their parents," she said.
Spouses who will be "found by the court to have used his or her force or resorted to fraud to compel the other party to file a petition will be slapped with a P200,000 fine plus a 5-year imprisonment," the bill read.
The Senate has yet to tackle the bill on the committee level.
In March 2018, the House of Representatives, under the leadership of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, approved on third and final reading a bill providing for divorce and dissolution of marriage.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not support the bill as his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, "is not happy with it."
"My daughter is not happy with that. Really," the President earlier said.