MANILA- House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday appealed to the Catholic Church to allow the government to care for Filipinos by legalizing divorce.
Alvarez, a proponent of divorce, said the Catholic Church should not dictate members of other religions who might want a divorce law in the country.
"Pakiusap ko sa simbahan, igalang obligasyon ng gobyerno at rerespetuhin ng gobyerno obligasyon ng simbahan," he said.
"Sino may problema sa marriage? Dami. Hirap na hirap na kami. Maawa na sa amin," he added.
(I appeal to the Catholic Church to respect the government's obligation and in return, the government will respect the obligation of the Church. Who has marital woes? Many people. We are suffering, have pity on us.)
Alvarez is married to Emelita Apostol Alvarez but has been in a relationship with a certain Jennifer Malinawag Vicencio.
Alvarez's legal wife earlier said she was "abandoned" by her husband in 2016 after he was elected as House speaker.
The lawmaker, however, claimed that he was not violating any law as he was a member of an indigenous group that allegedly allows polygamy.
The divorce bill has made significant progress at the House of Representatives after a panel submitted the proposed measure for deliberations at the plenary level.
Several senators, however, have expressed apprehensions that a counterpart measure will be passed by the Senate.
A predominantly Catholic country, the Philippines is one of only 2 states in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is outlawed.
The Catholic Church has expressed strong disagreement to legalizing divorce in the Philippines.
Alvarez said married couples who are no longer happy should be allowed to separate without going through expensive legal procedures.
"Problema ko yan eh, kung di ka na masaya sa kasama mo impyerno araw-araw yan! Ginawa naming simple at hindi mahal.
Hindi lang mayaman pati mahirap pwede kasi yung problema sa marriage di lang mayaman, may marriages din na problema sa mahirap," he said.
(That is my problem, if you are no longer happy with your partner then that is a daily hell! We made it simple and cheap because even married couples who are poor have problems.)
-with a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News