MANILA – Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Tuesday called for a national dialogue on the issue of divorce in the Philippines.
Alvarez highlighted the importance of divorce to the well-being of many Filipino families, particularly workers.
He emphasized the need to recognize the rights of the Filipino workforce, including the right to dissolve unhappy, abusive, and toxic marriages.
"Divorce is a reality for many Filipino families, and it is time for us to acknowledge that reality and create a legal framework that reflects it," he said in a statement. “We must remember that the well-being of Filipino workers extends beyond the workplace. We must ensure that our laws protect their rights in every aspect of their lives, including their personal relationships.”
Alvarez has long been pushing for the enactment of House Bill 4998, or the “Absolute Divorce Act of 2022, which was already approved in principle on Feb. 23, 2023.
He said the Philippines is the only country in the world, aside from the Vatican, where divorce is not practiced.
The veteran lawmaker said allowing divorce in the country would bring a significant impact on the well-being and productivity of Filipino workers.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), almost half of the country's labor force comprised married individuals.
For those who are trapped in unhappy, abusive, and toxic marriages, the stress and emotional turmoil of their situation can have a profound impact on their ability to perform at work, a recent PSA study said.
Experience has shown that workers in unhappy marriages are more likely to experience health problems, such as depression and anxiety, which can result in increased absenteeism and decreased productivity, it said.
Additionally, those who are in abusive relationships may struggle to maintain a steady work schedule due to physical injuries or emotional trauma, it added.
Alvarez said he believes that Filipino workers must be allowed to end their marriages safely and legally to alleviate the emotional and psychological burdens that come with being trapped in an unhappy or abusive relationship.
He said this, in turn, would allow them to focus on their careers and reach their full potential in the workplace.
"We cannot continue to deny our fellow Filipinos the right to a second chance at happiness, meaning, and fulfillment. As we celebrate Labor Day (on May 1) and honor the contributions of our hardworking citizens, let us also commit to creating a more just and compassionate society that values the well-being of all our people,” he said. (PNA)