A devout Catholic living in a still pre-dominantly Catholic country, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada just did the right thing when he came out (no, he’s not joining few forces reviving the call for a divorce law), to strengthen a confusing provision in the Family Code which cites a ground for the severance of the marital bond.
The son of Anak ng Masa, ex-President Erap Estrada, hits the precise tack when he tries, though I feel it’s unintended, to mollify moves by some quarters to get the divorce law find its way amid heated debate on equally controversial Reproductive Health bill.
In filing Senate Bill 781, the gentleman from San Juan primarily seeks to amend Article 36 of the Code by defining certain indicators that will provide clear terms for the vaguely phrased “psychological incapacity” which has been loosely used in declaring nullity of marriage.
Article 36 plainly reads: “A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”
Without directly campaigning against a divorce law, Senator Jinggoy nonetheless, has this to say: “Perhaps a bill with a well-defined ground on nullifying a marriage is a much welcome alternative to absolute divorce law which is proscribed by the Constitution.”
He adds: “The Constitution is unequivocal in its expression of marriage as an ‘inviolable social institution,’ and that the State shall strengthen the solidarity and promote the total development of Filipino families.”
Estrada in his proposed bill enumerates several vital indications that make it as “psychological incapacity and that include: violent behavior or grossly abusive conduct against the other spouse or their common child or children; abandonment, protracted and constant refusal to cohabit or to have sexual intercourse with the other spouse; and constitutional laziness or indolence or willful deprivation of financial, spiritual, moral and emotional support to the other spouse and children without justifiable cause.
Also serving as indicators are drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, compulsive gambling or criminality; inveterate sexual infidelity, homosexuality in men or lesbianism in women; extremely low intelligence or immaturity; and other analogous circumstances showing an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates one or both spouses from complying with the rights and obligations between husband and wife (as enumerated in Articles 68-71 of the Family Code).
With the things going on, the senator’s move should really get its way so as to obliterate decades-old confusion among legal practitioners relying mainly in Article 36 to nullify a dysfunctional marriage.
This is so after he finds out that the commission that drafted the Code in 1987 deliberately did not define the term so as not to limit its applicability and to “give the trial courts the needed leeway in examining the factual milieu of each case independent of preconceived assumptions and generalizations.”
Jinggoy, who’s happily married to Precy for 21 years (and they’re turning silver by 2015) with four beautiful and handsome kids, was intelligent enough when he sought to make it less complicated for estranged couples to severe their marital ties for good rather than joining few quarters to propose a divorce law.