Divorce Bill Moves Forward in Philippine Congress

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QUEZON CITY – The controversial Divorce bill is finally moving forward now in the House of Representatives after several attempts in the previous Congresses failed.

The House Committee on Population and Family Relations last week approved a substitute bill to be called Absolute Divorce Act of 2018.

Lawmakers belonging to different blocs crossed party lines in approving the measure, which is strongly opposed by many Filipinos, mostly Catholics who are believers of the sanctity of marriage.

 Among the authors of the bill are Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano from the supermajority; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. from the Minority Magnificent Seven bloc and militant solons France Castro, Ariel Casilao and Emmie de Jesus from Makabayan bloc.

“Dito lang nagsama-sama ang majority, Makabayan bloc, minority. . .Siguro by next week, baka pumasok na sa plenary ito,” an elated Alvarez said in an interview.

Alvarez even congratulated Lagman, the leader of the opposition bloc, for steering the drafting of the consolidated bill.

“Thank you, Speaker, for accommodating our compromise proposals,” Lagman told the Speaker.

Proponents of the measure assured the public that unlike annulment and legal separation, the divorce process will be affordable and inexpensive particularly for indigent litigants or petitioners,.

They stressed that absolute divorce is a pro-woman legislation because in most cases, it is the wife who is entitled to a divorce as liberation from an abusive relationship and to help her regain dignity and self-esteem.

The bill proposes a six-month cooling off period after the filing of a petition for absolute divorce as a final attempt of reconciling the concerned spouses.

Among the grounds for divorce  cited in the measure are: Physical violence or grossly abusive conduct against petitioner; physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioners; final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment; drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling; homosexuality of the respondent; subsequent bigamous marriage here and abroad; marital infidelity or having a child with another person; abandonment without justifiable cause; five years separation and reconciliation is highly improbable; psychological incapacity; gender reassignment or transition; and  irreconcilable marital differences.

To date, the Philippines is one of the few countries in the world that does not allow divorce. (philippinestodayusa@gmail.com)

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