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Discussing divorce

Absolute divorce could become legal in the Philippines with the proposed bill headed for the plenary of the House of Representatives after it was unanimously passed by the Committee on Population and Family Relations.

Under the proposal, 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.

Other grounds for divorce included in the proposed bill are separation in fact for at least five years at the time the petition is filed; when one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another; irreconcilable marital differences; other forms of domestic or marital abuse; valid foreign divorce secured by either the alien or Filipino spouse; and the nullification of marriage by a recognized religious tribunal.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the measure, pointed out that the Philippines is the only country in the world that outlaws absolute divorce, aside from the 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,” he noted.

Rep. Lagman said the passage of the bill by the House panel marks “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.”

Previous bills and measures seeking to institute absolute divorce in the country have made it to the House plenary, but none have succeeded, leaving married Filipino couples, who want to dissolve their unions with limited and terribly expensive options that normally involve an arduous process. Divorce may be an ugly word for some, especially those who have not experienced being in an abusive relationship, but it can change the lives of family members trapped in marriage that is no longer viable.

Our legislators should not waste this opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of absolute divorce in the country.*

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December 2022
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