Hontiveros says no to 'fast food' divorce

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2019 09:04 AM

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MANILA - The measure allowing absolute divorce would not be like "fast food," its author Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.

"Tayong mga Pilipino, we get married with all seriousness and intention to make it last pero pagka umabot sa punto na kailangan i-consider 'yung dissolution of marriage, it is also in all seriousness. Hindi ito fast food, seryosong mga usapin ito," she told ANC's Early Edition.

(Filipinos get married with all seriousness and intention to make it last but when it comes to a point to consider the dissolution of marriage, it is also in all seriousness. This is not fast food, it's a serious matter.)

The measure is expected to be met with strong opposition in the Philippines, a pre-dominantly Catholic country that is one of the two states in the world where divorce is illegal, the other being Vatican City.

Under the measure, physical violence and "grossly abusive conduct" are considered grounds for divorce. These include marital rape, according to Hontiveros, as 1 in 4 women suffers from spousal abuse.

Divorce may also be filed when the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree for at least 2 years or when they have been separated “in fact” for at least 5 years and reconciliation is highly improbable.

Hontiveros said the measure would give Filipinos stuck in unhealthy marriages a "second chance at a real and loving family life" without the "mudslinging" in annulment, which she described as "inaccessible" and "anti-poor" as it costs around P300,000, with the proceedings taking several years.

"Divorce bill would allow the couple na maaaring nagibigan nung simula (who loved each other at first) but something went wrong along the way and even though they tried to fix it, hindi na kaya (it can be resolved)," she said.

"It would allow them a clean break, honoring their past but giving themselves and their children a second chance at a happy life."

The bill also has a safeguard against spouses "deceiving or compelling the other spouse to file for divorce," Hontiveros said.

"Kapag may ganyang bad faith may penalty iyon (If there's bad faith, there will be penalty)," she said.

Hontiveros, meantime, believes the bill has a "fair chance" at the Senate, citing colleagues expressing support for the measure such as Senators Grace Poe and Pia Cayetano.

"I think may fair chance ito, dahil kahit si (I think it has a fair chance because even) Senate President Tito said the fate of any divorce bill would be in the hands of the chair of the Senate committee on women, ako 'yung chair ngayon (I'm the chairperson) so I would like to give it a fair fight," she said.

"Sinabi rin ni SP na karamihan naming mga senador ay gustong at least pag-usapan."

(Senate President also said majority of our colleagues want to at least discuss it.)

She added that the measure doesn't have to be called divorce.

"I am very open sa pagbabago sa termino, ang importante madagdagan ng grounds (to change the term, what's important is we add grounds), we don’t have to call it divorce but embrace the grounds for annulment, legal separation," she said.