MANILA - The Senate will mount "healthy debates"on the proposed legalization of divorce, the leader of the chamber said Tuesday in the face of expected opposition from President Rodrigo Duterte and Catholic bishops.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier this month refiled a bill seeking absolute divorce in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, one of only 2 states in the world, aside from the Vatican, where it is outlawed.
"Siguradong pag-uusapan ng Senado iyan. Isa sa mga healthy debates namin iyan, sigurado, aside from the death penalty," Senate President Tito Sotto told radio DZMM.
(The Senate will surely talk about that. That will be one of our healthy debates, aside from the death penalty.)
"With proper safeguards, tingnan natin kung mas maeeksplika sa karamihan sa amin na mas mabuti ito kaysa sa present laws on annulment," he added.
(Let's see if it can be explained to the majority of us why this is better than the present laws on annulment.)
Aside from Hontiveros, Sen. Pia Cayetano also backs divorce. "Inaasahan ko na talagang pagpupursigehan nila iyan (I expect them to really work on that)," said Sotto.
Sotto said his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, is "70-30 in favor" of divorce, which is also backed by "1 or 2" of their children. The Senate President earlier said he was not in favor of the measure, but did not say whether or not his opinion has changed.
In civil cases of annulment, a judge declares a marriage invalid due to "psychological incapacity".
Applicants must undergo a mental exam, testify in court and sometimes even claim they or their spouse entered the union while afflicted by a disorder such as narcissism.
The process can take anywhere from 1 to 10 years to wind through the slow and overburdened court system and cost at least P250,000.
Duterte separated from his estranged wife in this manner long before he was elected president. He is against divorce, believing children will suffer.
Lawmakers have regularly filed a bill to legalize divorce since 1999. The House of Representatives last year passed the measure on third and final reading, but it did got the same support from the Senate. With a report from Agence France-Presse