Solons say divorce bill will help abused spouses start anew

<p><em>(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Senate needs to pick up speed on the divorce bill for the sake of spouses who are victim-survivors of domestic abuse and after the House of Representatives already approved the measure “in principle.”

The Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros, conducted a hearing on Tuesday on various bills about the dissolution of marriage.

She particularly cited women who need legal recourse to get out of their marriage.

"Some Filipino women have almost been killed by their own husbands. But most of them cannot leave their marriages because of the prohibitive costs of filing for an annulment. Bigyan na natin ang ating mga kababaihan ng pagkakataong makalaya sa masalimuot at abusadong pagsasama. Bigyan natin sila ng oportunidad na mahalin at magmahal muli. Ipasa na ang (Let us give them a chance to be free from a complicated and abusive union. Let us give them an opportunity to love and be loved again. Let us pass the) divorce bill," Hontiveros said in her opening statement.

“Once you've realized you've made a mistake, the way out shouldn't be traumatizing to the average married Filipino -- financially, psychologically, and socially. We all deserve a second chance at love and in life.”

The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed one in four married women aged 15 years to 49 years experienced spousal violence, whether physical, sexual, or emotional.

"When a marriage becomes irreparable, it is incumbent upon the State to not only provide relief to spouses, but also protect children from the pain, anxiety, and trauma of witnessing regular marital clashes. Let us give Filipino families the chance to let go of toxic relationships," Hontiveros said.

The House, she said, has been making moves to help the country catch up with the rest of the world.

The Philippines and the Vatican City are the only two places in the world where divorce is not allowed.

“The Senate must do the same. Past surveys have demonstrated that the majority of Filipinos favor divorce to be instituted in the country. We better listen to our people," Hontiveros said.

Senators Raffy Tulfo also invited anti-divorce advocates to attend the next hearing.

In February, the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved House Bill 1593 (Church Nullity Act of 2022) and endorsed it to a technical working group tasked with crafting a substitute measure.

Albay 1st District Rep Edcel Lagman said the divorce bill would give spouses, especially wives, the option of getting out of an "irremediably broken marriage" and a chance to start over.

"While it is said that marriages are solemnized in heaven, the fact is some marriages plummet into hell because of human frailty and imperfections. The Divorce Act seeks to redeem couples, particularly the abused or abandoned wives, from infernal agony," Lagman said in a previous statement. (Leonel Abasola/PNA)