Passage of divorce bill urged

Lawmakers were urged to prioritize the passage of the divorce bill to make divorce available to those suffering in abusive relationships. 

Former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, Akbayan Citizens Action Party president Rafaela David, author and political analyst Richard Heydarian, and dean of the School of Management at Ateneo de Manila University Roberto Galang appeared on the BBC World Service’s World Questions program to discuss a number of topics, including divorce.

David said that the divorce bill has been a long-standing dilemma in the Philippines and that their party has been constantly been pushing for its passage under the leadership of Senator Risa Hontiveros, who sits as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.  

“We believe this option should be available for Filipino people. We believe that everyone should have a chance at a second love. With all due respect to the religious families, but what destroys a family is an abusive relationship that we Filipinos should be able to get off,” David said. 

Carpio also expressed support for the passage of the divorce bill. 

“I hope it will be passed soon. There had been several attempts. We have an anomaly in the country because we have divorce for the Muslims, we don’t have divorce for the Catholics. We actually had divorce law in the past, during the American regime and the Japanese regime, so it’s something in our legal system before, but I think we have to pass this already; we are the only country probably, after the Vatican,” he said. 

Heydarian said there has been a lot of pushback from “more conservative elements in the Catholic hierarchy.”

“I hope these politicians realize that if the Pope is moving in that liberal and progressive direction, maybe we also have to move in the direction,” he said.

The proposed divorce bill, which includes domestic violence as grounds for divorce, already lists 70 authors in the House of Representatives.

Albay lawmaker Edcel Lagman, one of the bill’s principal authors, said that the number of authors at this point alone—having just been sponsored before the plenary—is already proof that the measure has a realistic chance of being approved on the third and final reading in the House.

Hontiveros said she hoped the Senate would schedule the plenary deliberations on the bill.

In September 2023, the Senate panel released the committee report, which contained the consolidated bill expanding the grounds for the dissolution of marriage and instituting divorce in the country. However, since its committee approval, its sponsorship has yet to be scheduled in the Senate plenary. — BM, GMA Integrated News