Divorce bill stirs controversy

A controversial bill to introduce divorce in the Philippines has stirred controversy among members of two houses of Congress and ordinary citizens of this Catholic dominated country.

The bill, House Bill no. 1799, also known as “An act introducing divorce in the Philippines” was filed by Congresswomen Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of the political group Gabriela Women’s Party, which focuses on advancing women rights in the Philippines.

It’s interesting to note that the same group is pushing for the approval of another controversial legislative measure, the Reproductive Health Bill (RH bill) now subject of heated debates on the floors of both the House and the Senate. Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto said the two bills were introduced by the leftist party group allegedly to weaken the Church.

Currently no law allows married couple to obtain divorce in the Philippines. However, an annulment or legal separation under certain conditions are allowed by the Family Code of the Philippines and Executive Order No. 209 signed July 26, 1987.

HB 1799’s explanatory said “Reality tells us that there are many failed, unhappy  marriages across all Filipino classes.

The House Committee on Revision of Laws scheduled yesterday a hearing on divorce  bill which according to latest poll survey was supported,( ironically for the lady-authors of the measure),  more by males than females whom the bill wants to protect.

The move or hearing followed a vote in a referendum in a “Roman Catholic Malta  approving divorce in the tiny Mediterranean archipelago’’. The Philippines is the only country today where divorces are banned.

In opposing the divorce bill Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani noted that in  the US, which had the highest rate of divorce, one in two married couples preferred to separate.

Also in opposing the bill Senator Sotto said “If there is divorce law,  couples facing some minor problems may choose not to work on their marriage anymore.

On the other hand, Senate Protempore Jinggoy Estrada and Panfilo Lacson said The Philippines is not yet ready for divorce.

We humbly submit that The Philippines is not yet ready for divorce law and  thus it would be a wise move for our legislators to just expand the existing grounds for legal separation under Family Code, and  allow re-marriage of legally separated couple.

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