Divorce law in Philippines 'long overdue': lawmaker

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2022 12:40 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2022 01:05 PM

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MANILA - A divorce law in the Philippines is "long overdue," a lawmaker who refiled a bill "reinstituting divorce" said Wednesday.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said the state "must not abandon couples in distress, particularly the battered, abandoned wives and their children from a house on fire."

House Bill No. 78 uses the term "reinstitution" of divorce because pre-Spanish Filipinos and those during the American and Japanese occupation had "absolute divorce," Lagman said.

"I would hazard to say that the universality of absolute divorce is not a blunder en masse of all countries, including Catholic countries, to legalize divorce," he told ANC's Headstart.

"Data would show in countries that legalized divorce there was no floodgate or exodus of couples seeking a divorce. The contrary is true because now it has been recognized and there are restrictions or limitations on getting a divorce decree. "

The bill contains a provision for a 6-month cooling period "where the judge will take all necessary precautions to reconcile" the couple, Lagman said.

The Supreme Court's easing of annulment rules is not enough, Lagman added.

"We are dissolving a marriage which has been irretrievably damaged and reconciliation is virtually nil," he said.

A similar bill was passed on third reading by the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress, but was not acted upon by the Senate.

An identical divorce bill was approved by the Committee on Population and Family Relations in the 18th Congress.

"I'm very confident that with new composition of Congress and favorable statement of President (Bongbong) Marcos on this divorce bill, I am confident we will be able to pass this within the 19th Congress."

The Catholic-majority Philippines is the only country in the world apart from the Vatican without a divorce law.