No railroading: Absolute divorce bill tackled by House panel for 2 years - Lagman

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2021 11:40 AM | Updated as of Aug 20 2021 11:41 AM

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MANILA – The House of Representatives Committee on Population and Family Relations tackled the proposed bill on absolute divorce for more than 2 years before unanimously passing it on Tuesday, Rep. Edcel Lagman said, after his fellow lawmaker accused the committee of “railroading” the measure.

On Wednesday, Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza lambasted the panel for passing the measure “in record time, treating it as lightly as the renaming of a public street.”

“The committee took more than two years to approve this measure in instituting absolute divorce. The committee conducted several public hearings where the adversaries as well as the advocates were invited,” Lagman said.

He said some of the those opposed to divorce invited to their hearings were:

  • Fr. Jerome Secillano, chair of the Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
  • Atty. Lyndon Caña, chair of the Coalition of Concerned Families of the Philippines
  • Atty. Ronaldo Reyes, convenor of the Advocates for Family and Life

He said these resource persons were given the latitude to express their views on absolute divorce.

Lagman also noted that Atienza was “uncharacteristically silent” in the Tuesday meeting, to which he and regular and ex-oficio committee members were invited “well in advance.”

“He did not make any manifestation, he did not cast a negative vote, he was unusually silent,” Lagman said.

The lawmaker noted that divorce is not for all married couples in the Philippines.

He added, however, that divorce is an opportunity for battered, deserted, and neglected wives to regain their humanity and self-respect.

Lagman said the Constitution does not prohibit the Congress from enacting an absolute divorce law. 

“In fact, the Commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, led by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, were unanimous in their position that the Congress can legislate an absolute divorce law,” he said Thursday.

--ANC, 20 August 2021