Is Philippines ready for 'one-time' divorce?

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2019 03:22 PM

MANILA - Senators Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday he would support a bill that allows “once in a lifetime” divorce.

In a tweet, Lacson said he is inclined to support a limit on divorce, adding “you err, make amends; you err twice, you deserve to suffer.”

Lacson told reporters in a text message that his tweet was “intended to induce some discussions and ideas.”

“It is also a way of getting the sense of people strongly for and against the passage of the measure so I may be guided when I cast my vote,” he added.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said he was previously against divorce but had a change of heart after learning of Lacson’s proposal.

“Susuportahan ko ang plano ni Sen. Lacson na ganon nga, isang beses ka lang. Okay lang magkamali ka ng isang beses. Sa pangalawang beses ka magkakamali sinasadya mo na 'yan,” Dela Rosa told reporters.

(I will support Sen. Lacson’s proposal. It’s fine that you commit a mistake once. But if you do it again, that’s on you.)

In the Philippines, the only country in the world aside from the Vatican City where divorce remains illegal, couples can have their marriage annulled on the ground of psychological incapacity, a lengthy and costly process.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said some of his colleagues are apprehensive about supporting a divorce bill. He said they are more inclined to make annulment more accessible to Filipinos.

“Karamihan sa amin, mas madali kung ang pag uusapan natin eh dissolution of marriage. In other words, it is an upgraded annulment law,” Sotto told reporters on Monday. “Kumbaga sa ano, may negative na dating.”

“There is more probability or possibility of support if it is not called divorce or we’re not talking of divorce but we’re talking of dissolution of marriage."

Sen. Joel Villanueva, son of Jesus is Lord Movement founder Eddie Villanueva, said he would oppose any divorce bill.

“Over my dead body… I will oppose it. I will definitely oppose it," Villanueva told reporters Monday.

Sen. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, said she was “too conservative” to support a divorce bill.

“[Let’s take] little baby steps so we don’t threaten or in any way endanger the family,” Marcos told reporters.

“Palawakin at pagtibayin muna ang annulment grounds. Ang mas mahalaga sa akin, pangalagaan ang abandoned or abuse spouse. Even more important, ang mga bata.”

(Let us expand the grounds for annulment. What’s important is we take care of the abandoned or abuse spouses and their children.)

Sen. Grace Poe, meanwhile, said she was keeping her mind open to supporting divorce.

In the Senate, minority Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an advocate of women’s rights, had earlier refiled a bill seeking legalization of absolute divorce in the Philippines.

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.

“Don’t want divorce? Then don’t get one! But let others have a second chance in life,” Hontiveros said on Twitter on Monday.