MANILA -- Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday hit critics of the absolute divorce bill, after his fellow lawmaker accused the Committee on Population and Family Relations of "railroading" the said measure.
Buhay Party-list Rep.Lito Atienza said the proposed measure is in direct violation of the Philippine Constitution.
"The Constitution says the sanctity of marriage should be protected by the State. Passing this measure goes against the inviolability of marriage, which should never be broken, infringed or dishonored," he said.
Atienza lamented that some organizations were not given a voice in the panel's proceedings.
"They did not invite a number of big family organizations to defend the sanctity of marriage. A number of them were informed of the meeting on the day itself, and the committee seems to have timed it exactly to coincide with the committee hearing on the COA report on the DOH (Department of Health)."
"They passed it in record time, treating it as lightly as the renaming of a public street," Atienza said.
The former Manila mayor said that had they been given the chance, organizations representing families would have presented studies showing that children of divorced parents develop psychological disorders.
Lagman maintained that in legalizing absolute divorce, the state does not destroy the institution of marriage, "because a judicial decree granting divorce is after the fact of a marriage which has been irretrievably put asunder by human frailty and mortal imperfections."
"The liberation accorded by absolute divorce is for exceptional cases where spouses, particularly wives, are imprisoned in irremediably ruined marriages and dysfunctional unions."
"For the battered, deserted, and neglected wives, it is the opportunity for them to regain their humanity, self-respect, and freedom from a hapless and hellish marriage," Lagman said.
Lagman noted that the Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from Vatican City, that has not legalized divorce.
The bill legalizing absolute divorce in the Philippines was sent to the House plenary by the Committee on Population and Family Relations on Tuesday.
In the 17th Congress, House Bill 7303, which sought to institute absolute divorce in the country, also made it to the House plenary.
Last year, a House committee also approved three measures seeking to legalize divorce in the pre-dominantly Catholic Philippines.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros also filed an "absolute divorce" bill in the upper chamber in 2019.
Philippine lawmakers have regularly filed a bill to legalize divorce since 1999.
--with reports from RG Cruz