Are you for or against the divorce bill? Pinoy parents weigh in
Will the much debated Divorce Bill destroy the "sanctity of marriage" or will it give those in difficult marriages a chance at happiness?
The legality of divorce is a non-issue worldwide except for, of course, the Vatican and just one out of the 195 countries around the world, the Philippines.
But a hotly debated bill seeks to change this.
Thousands have signed petitions, hundreds have staged rallies, and the president has spoken against it, but despite opposition, it seems that the Divorce Bill is pushing through in the Philippines. The controversial bill has been approved by the House of Representatives on its final reading in March of 2018.
Divorce Bill in the Philippines Approved by the House, Now in the Senate’s Hands
As of this writing, the bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate. If it passes the final reading, President Duterte would still have to greenlight the bill’s passage. Though he has previously spoken out against the bill, some government officials, like House Speaker Pantaelon Alvarez, remain hopeful that he will change his mind.
Once enacted into law, the bill would give spouses in “irremediably failed marriages” the capacity to obtain an absolute divorce decree (albeit on limited grounds). In this way, their children can be shielded from having to deal with the effects of marital problems and allow parents to remarry.
Though annulment is legal in the Philippines, it often involves a long, arduous, not to mention expensive, process.
Couples Can File for Absolute Divorce When Any of the Following Circumstances are Present:
- valid reasons indicated in the legal separation and annulment sections of the Family Code of the Philippines (abuse, alcoholism, violence, bigamy, infidelity, etc.)
- a couple has been living apart for at least five years
- a couple has been legally separated for at least two years by judicial decree
- irreconcilable differences
- psychological incapacity
- gender reassignment surgery
- joint petition of married couple
However, it’s important to note that the Divorce Bill will also impose upon couples a mandatory “six-month cooling-off period.” During this time, the court will “actively intervene in attempting to reconcile the parties.”
Divorce Bill in the Philippines Approved by the House, But Does It Get Parents’ Vote of Confidence?
While it’s natural to assume that Filipinos are still largely against the bill — 80% of the country is Catholic and the Catholic church is the biggest opposition of the bill — one church-run survey begs to differ.
According to a Radio Veritas survey, more Filipinos “strongly agree” with the Divorce Bill. The Inquirer reports that out of the 1,200 respondents, 39% said they (mostly women) “strongly agree” with the bill. Another 35% strongly disagree with it.
But What Do Moms and Dads Think About It?
Mom Christine Gemora thinks only “immature” couples are in favor of divorce. She believes in exhausting all means to resolve marital problems, in keeping with the vows a couple made to love each other for better or for worse.
Mom Sally Basa Trinidad has a slightly more neutral take, saying the solution is not giving couples a “way out” but providing more programs that can help mend their differences.
Dad Ryan Rodnell Macaya shares a similar view, emphasizing that he still holds a Biblical stance on the sanctity of marriage. The Bible states that no man can tear apart a couple joined together by God.
“Marriage is like a besieged city. Many want to get out, but they can’t,” he says. “But now they made a hole through a law in their hands called Divorce. Subjective moralism is on the rise.”
Moms Who Were in Abusive Relationships Voice Their Support for the Bill
Mom Miles Tan once believed in the sanctity of marriage, but then experiencing firsthand what a toxic marriage was like, with an abusive “alcoholic” husband, she soon changed her mind.
She shares how she was in “a marriage that had no respect, a husband that would always humiliate [her] even in public places, hit [her] even in front of their child and parents.”
Despite all this, she felt guilty for wanting to separate from him because of her faith. So she tried her best to save it. In the end, though, her need to “survive for her child” prevailed.
“I am pro-divorce,” says Miles, clarifying her stance as not an excuse to remarry, but to regain her self-worth. “I have no partner as of now but I still want that divorce!”
Battered Wife Becomes Pro-Divorce Activist
Mom Cecil Jueco shares a similar plight with VICE News, explaining why she became a Pro-Divorce activist.
Shortly after she was married, she was subjected to physical abuse. Her nightmare continued for years, even involving sexual abuse, to the point that she felt trapped, thinking the only way out was to kill her husband or take her own life.
Each marriage is different just as each marital problem is unique. While giving couples the freedom to divorce is viewed by some as right, others feel it goes against long-held beliefs.
But despite this ongoing debate, it’s important to also present the view that the Philippine government legalizing divorce has nothing to do with religion.
“Each religion can proceed as they see fit. Catholics are still married even if the state says it’s cool and approves your divorce,” says dad of three Vincent Sales, who also clarified that once the Divorce Bill is approved, the State is “no longer a hindrance to divorce for anyone, but if you’re a catholic you still have to go through the whole annulment thing if you want the church to annul you.”