A popular Filipino media personality-turned-senator, Raffy Tulfo, expressed his willingness to discuss with Catholic Church leaders in the country the proposal to legalize divorce in the Philippines.
“We respect their tradition, canon law, rituals, and customs, that’s why I am calling for the Catholic Church’s support,” said the senator in a statement quoted by a report in the Inquirer.
“I am ready to sit down for a dialogue with the Catholic Church,” he added, saying he would be willing to explain his proposal.
He said that as host of a public affairs program on radio and television, he already lost count of how many married couples have asked for help about their marriage.
“Our stand on divorce, annulment, separation, and domestic violence is well-informed by years of first-hand experiences on complaints and situations of distressed families,” said the senator.
“We have been receiving and handling these complaints and situations every day for the past many years,” said Tulfo, adding that he understands the “details, complexities, and hardships spouses go through.”
Philippine Church leaders earlier expressed dismay over the filing of another bill in Congress proposing to legalize divorce in the country.
“It’s unfortunate that some legislators would rather focus on breaking marriages than fixing them or strengthening marital bond,” said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the bishops’ conference.
Filed by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the proposed “Absolute Divorce Act” aims to provide absolute divorce for “irremediably broken” marriages with “affordable, expeditious, and inexpensive” court proceedings.
“To think that Filipinos are embroiled in much bigger problems, the likes of Lagman are busy advancing their irrational advocacies instead of legislating policies that will thumb down the negative impacts of unrelenting oil price increase, inflation, fare hike, unemployment and COVID-19,” said Father Secillano in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas 846.
The priest said the “unreasonable penchant of these legislators to the divorce bill while we are reeling from economic devastation tells me that it’s no longer about helping Filipinos rise up from economic poverty but a matter of pride and subservience to whoever is behind this measure.”
Lagman, however, said his bill “provides for clear and categorical safeguards for the preservation and protection of marriage.”
“While the state continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the foundation of the family, shattered marriages beyond rehabilitation happen due to human failings and frailties,” he said.
The legislator filed versions of the measure in previous sessions of Congress, with a similar one passed on third reading by the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress. The Senate, however, did not act upon it.
Another version was also approved by the Committee on Population and Family Relations in the 18th Congress but was stalled in the Committee on Appropriations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in March said there were cases in which divorce was “called for” and “it can’t really be worked out,” though it still should not be easy to get.