MANILA – For the fifth time since 2005, party-list group Gabriela filed anew House Bill 2380, pushing for the legislation of divorce in the country.
The women's party made their first attempt to legalize divorce during the 13th Congress in 2005.
Gabriela was accompanied by other divorce advocates and lobby groups as they filed the bill in Congress Wednesday.
Party-list Representative Emmi De Jesus and Gabriela spokesman Arlene Brosas believe it is high time that the state give couples in abusive and irreparable marriages the option to divorce.
"Kung may karapatang pumasok sa kontrata ng kasal, dapat kilalanin na may karapatan din lumabas sa kontrata lalo na kung nasasangkot na ang emosyon at safety ng may relasyon sa marriage," De Jesus said.
"Sinasabi sa mga surveys na 60 percent ng population ay agree sa divorce, tatlo sa bawat limang Pilipino ay in favor of legislation ng divorce," Brosas added.
Gabriela explained that the proposed Divorce Bill takes into consideration the rudiments of Filipino culture and the general sentiment of preserving the sanctity of Filipino marriages, which is why the measure provides that divorce be granted only when certain conditions are met.
These conditions include:
- The petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five 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 two 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 incapable to comply with the essential marital obligations; and
- When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of marriage.
De Jesus said the bill gives more leeway than legal separation or annulment for couples who wish to part ways
"Ang weakness ng legal separation, hindi ka maka-move on dahil hindi pinawawalang bisa ang kasal," she said. “Ang annulment, kinikilala lamang ang problema ng relasyon noon pang panahon ng kasal tulad ng psychological incapacity na noon pa man nag-exist.”
Cecile Jueco, President of Divorce Advocates of the Philippines, appealed to those against divorce to understand the situation of those suffering in their marriages.
"If you are not in favor of divorce, then do not file for divorce. Thank God, you have a happy married life," she said.
Asliah Limbona, Secretary General of Pro-Divorce Philippines, also said, "Hindi lahat maswerte, pero may pagkakataon pa na baguhin ang buhay natin. Mayroon pa ring forever sa pangalawang pagkakataon.”
Maviv Millora, Secretary General of Divorce Advocates of the Philippines, also emphasized the hardship that broken families experience due to the absence of a divorce law in the country.
"Nung isang araw, tumawag kaibigan ko, tinutukan siya ng baril ng kanyang asawa, sabi ko anong magagawa ko, go to the police, go to PAO (Public Attorneys Office), o kaya sa Gabriela, pero iniisip niya kahihiyan nya. Anong gagawin natin diyan, ‘till death do us part? Bigyan ninyo kami ng pagkakataon, kailangan din namin kumawala, tulungan nyo naman kami," she said.
"Hindi lang mag-asawa ang biktima, pinakakawawa ang mga bata. Kailangan ba nila lumaki sa magulong sitwasyon ng mga magulang? Nangyayari, tanggap na nila na ganun eh, bumababa ang moralidad natin" she added.
But some legislators remain cold towards the proposal, saying it could damage the sanctity of marriage.
"Ako ay hindi sangayon. Kung ano ang sinumpaan sa Diyos at sa tao, dapat panindigan mo." Deputy Speaker Representative Fred Castro said.
"Ang pagaasawa ay magiging laruan lamang. Madaling magpakasal, gagawing laruan dahil pwede din silang maghiwalay. Kung may divorce, hindi na nila pag-iisipan ang kasal. Mga duwag lamang ang may gusto ng divorce dahil hindi nila kayang tayuan ang kanilang sinumpaan,” he added.
Deputy Speaker Representative Miro Quimbo was also non-committal towards the bill, saying more studies should be done for people to accept a western concept that is long perceived to be contrary to Filipino culture.
"The country is not ready to discuss absolute divorce," he said. "Iyan ay usapin na dapat pang pagusapan tulad ng Reproductive Health Bill."
Quimbo said he believes that amending existing laws could already provide relief for suffering couples that a divorce bill may not be necessary.
“Palawigin natin ang mga existing laws para hindi habambuhay ay preso sa relasyong hindi tama. It’s high time we start discussing so that annulment of marriages can be accessible to the poor,” he said.