MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday refiled a bill allowing for absolute divorce in the Philippines, a measure that is expected to earn strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
In her explanatory note of the bill, Hontiveros noted that save for Vatican City, the Philippines is the only country in the world where divorce is illegal.
"Despite this, the number and proportion of Filipinos who are separate has been increasing over time — demonstrating that the denial of legal remedies to those seeking to dissolve their union has largely been an ineffective way of upholding the policy of the State to keep families together,” Hontiveros said in her explanatory note.
The minority senator said it has been well-documented that the absence of a divorce law "has had disproportionate effects on women who are more often the victims of abuse within marriages.”
Under Hontiveros’ divorce bill, physical violence and "grossly abusive conduct" are considered grounds for divorce.
Divorce may also be filed when the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree for at least two years or when they have been separated “in fact” for at least five years and reconciliation is highly improbable.
Hontiveros said in the 17th Congress, her divorce bill languished at the committee level.
She said while the state continues to recognize the sanctity of family life, “it is also duty bound to promote and protect the well-being of its citizens.”
“It is a duty that should extend to circumstances whereby this well-being is being compromised by the inability to break free from irremediably broken marriages and start anew in healthier family and living arrangements,” she said.
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."