MANILA - One of the authors of the proposed absolute divorce bill in the Philippines is confident that it would hurdle the plenary of the House of Representatives after it was unanimously passed by the Committee on Population and Family Relations.
“Sa palagay ko ganun din ang mangyayari sa plenaryo lalong-lalo na ang Speaker of the House, si Speaker Lord Allan Velasco ay sang-ayon sa batas na itong Absolute Divorce Decree,” said Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman.
(I think the same would happen in the plenary especially since House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is in favor of the bill on Absolute Divorce Decree.)
Under the proposal, the grounds for legal separation, annulment of marriage, and nullification of marriage based on psychological incapacity under the Family Code of the Philippines are included as grounds for absolute divorce.
“Itong Absolute Divorce Bill o magiging batas ay hindi para sa lahat ng married couples. Dito sa Pilipinas, 'yung overwhelming majority of married men and women ay talagang masaya ang pagsasama. Itong divorce bill na ito ay para doon sa mga mag-asawa na talagang hindi na ma-reconcile ang kanilang mga irremediable differences,” he said.
(The Absolute Divorce Bill is not for all married couples. Here in the Philippines, the overwhelming majority of married men and women are happy with their union. This divorce bill is for married couples who cannot really reconcile their irremediable differences.)
The other grounds for divorce included in the bill are the following:
- separation in fact for at least 5 years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed
- when one of the spouses undergoes gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another
- irreconcilable marital difference
- other forms of domestic or marital abuse
- valid foreign divorce secured by either the alien of Filipino spouse
- nullification of a marriage by a recognized religious tribunal.
Family law expert Maria Soledad Mawis is happy that the issue of divorce is again in the spotlight and likewise hopes that the bill would be passed in the plenary.
“I hope so that it will pass because as I’ve said people should be given a chance to find second love,” Mawis said.
Mawis, who is dean at the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, believes that a divorce law is timely.
“I think divorce law is a way out para hindi na sila magkaroon ng mas malalang kasalanan or just to be simply free from abuse or a loveless marriage,” she said.
(I think divorce law is a way out so they will not commit a much bigger problem or just to be simply free from abuse or a loveless marriage.)
But what must be ensured, she added, is that the grounds for divorce are valid.
“Ang kailangan lang nating bantayan siguro ay hindi lang 'yung grounds na flimsy. Dapat, dahil marriage pa rin is an inviolable social institution which the state must protect, dapat bigyan natin ng pansin 'yung rason bakit magkakaroon ng divorce. Ano yung karapat-dapat na grounds para mabigyan ng divorce,” she said.
(What we need to watch out for is that the grounds are valid and not flimsy. Since marriage is still an inviolable social institution that the State must protce, we should give attention to the reasons why there should be divorce. What are the valid grounds for divorce.)
Meanwhile, Lagman said they are not pushing for the bill because of personal reasons.
“Ito ay para sa taumbayan, lalong-lalo na sa mga naaping mga asawang babae na sila ay matagal nang nagtitiis sa isang sitwasyon na talagang dysfunctional na 'yung union ay talagang wala nang pagmamahal,” he said.
(This is for the public, especially to the oppressed married women who have long endured a dysfunctional union and a loveless marriage.)
He added, “They should be given back the humanity and freedom.”