MANILA – The House Committee on Population and Family Relations on Tuesday endorsed for plenary approval a bill reinstituting absolute divorce as an alternative mode for the dissolution of marriage in the Philippines.
During its virtual hearing, the committee unanimously approved the unnumbered substitute bill that would allow absolute divorce in the country.
In his sponsorship remarks, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the bill seeks to reinstate absolute divorce because it was already practiced during the pre-Spanish times, the American colonial period, and during the Japanese occupation.
"Today is a momentous occasion for countless wives, who are battered and deserted, to regain their humanity, self-respect and freedom from irredeemably failed marriages and utterly dysfunctional unions,” Lagman said following the unanimous approval of the bill.
Lagman noted that no less than Speaker Lord Allan Velasco favors the enactment of a reinstituted absolute divorce law as he submitted the following perfecting amendments which are now incorporated in the substitute bill: provisions on court-assisted petitioners; community-based pre-nuptial and post-matrimonial programs; community-based women’s desks to provide assistance and support to victims of violence and abuse; and an appropriation language for the bill.
He said the grounds for legal separation, annulment of marriage, and nullification of marriage based on psychological incapacity under the Family Code of the Philippines are included as grounds for absolute divorce and were amended to make said grounds cover causes arising after the solemnization of the marriage.
The bill states that the other grounds for divorce include: separation in fact for at least five years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed; when one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another; irreconcilable marital differences as defined in the bill; other forms of domestic or marital abuse which are also defined in the bill; valid foreign divorce secured by either the alien or Filipino spouse; and a marriage nullified by a recognized religious tribunal.
The effects of absolute divorce include the voiding of the marital union and capacitating the divorced spouses to remarry.
Lagman highlighted that the Philippines is the only country in the world today that outlaws absolute divorce, aside from the almost celibate Vatican City state.
"It is hard to believe that all the other countries collectively erred in instituting absolute divorce in varying degrees of liberality and limitations. An en masse blunder is beyond comprehension. An erroneous unanimity on such a crucial familial institution defies reason and experience. Obviously, the rest of the world cannot be mistaken on the universality of absolute divorce," he said. (PNA)