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By Maria Velli Badillo

IN a Roman Catholic country like the Philippines, some would deem it sensitive and unimaginable to even consider absolute divorce as part of the law but a certain sectoral representative is proposing for it to be regarded as an addition to existing remedies for an aggrieved spouse. 

In filing House Bill 1799 on July 27, 2010, GABRIELA party-list representatives, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus said that separation is usually the last resort of many married Filipinos only after many years of trying to make the marriage work and divorce should be an option for the couple.

"Couples must have the option to avail of the remedies that will pave the way for the attainment of their full human development and self-fulfillment and have protection of their human rights. Existing laws are not enough to guarantee and protect these rights," they said in an interview with GMANews.TV.

They also said that the bill seeks to make Philippine law consistent in the way it treats religious belief with respect to the termination of marriage.

“The Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines allows divorce among Filipino Muslims, in deference to the Islamic Faith which recognizes divorce. Non-Muslim Filipinos should have the same option,” they said.

The bill also provides that couples who are suffering from ‘irreconcilable differences that are causing the irreparable breakdown of the marriage’ be granted divorce.

Ilagan and De Jesus said that a spouse can not just only ignore an act that gives them suffering because they are afraid of the shame that is attached to a failed marriage.

“Many spouses, especially women, in the marginalized sectors tend to condone the offense because they are economically dependent on their spouses. Divorce could actually provide protection to battered women and their children from further violence and abuse, “they said. 

The bill’s proponents are confident that Filipino couples would use this remedy responsibly.

"Couples may choose from these remedies depending on their situation, religious beliefs, cultural sensibilities, needs and emotional state," they said. 

Under the bill, divorce may be filed If the petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years and reconciliation is highly improbable; If the petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years and reconciliation is highly improbable; When any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage; When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

“The sanctity of marriage is not based on the number of marriages existing but on the quality of marital relationships,: the proponents said.

Differing Bill

On the other hand, the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) secretary, Father Melvin Castro lauded Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro for filing an anti-divorce bill (House Bill 37) that seeks to protect marriage as an inviolable social institution and that the family is the foundation of the nation.

This bill’s objective is to “ensure that absolute divorce remains unacceptable in the Philippine legal system and maintains that legal separation can be availed by the spouses in troubled marriages, as provided under the Family Code, so they live independently of each other but without the right to remarry other persons.”

Annulment cases down

National Appellate for Matrimonial Tribunal (NAMT) Judicial Vicar, retired archbishop Oscar Cruz said the number of annulment cases nationwide is declining.

“I think it’s less than 10 to 15 percent as far as our cases here are concerned because there are also cases that go directly to Rome that do not pass by us,” Cruz said in an interview.

He said that most of the cases filed by couples that seek to nullify their marriages are from the Metro Manila and that these married Filipinos have chosen to be annulled “precisely because of the trend that if they do that, they could also part whatever time they like.”

“Marriage is more difficult here (Metro Manila) precisely because of the influence of the First World countries which allow divorce and same-sex marriage, among others,” Cruz said.

To see the copy of the Divorce bill, click this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/56684606/HB-1799-Divorce-Bill

2/4/2018 07:05:08 pm

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