Days after Raffy Tulfo, a popular media personality-turned-senator, expressed willingness to discuss with Catholic Church leaders the proposal to legalize divorce in the Philippines, actor politician Robin Padilla on Monday, July 11, said he, too, is willing to discuss the proposed measure with the bishops.
“Hindi po ito kailanman na sumasalungat sa pag-aasawa. Hindi ito isang bagay na kami ay kontra na magkaroon ng forever. Katunayan, ito pong panukalang ito ay nagbibigay ng proteksyon, unang-una sa mag-asawa — babae at lalaki — at sa kanilang mga magiging anak (This is never meant to destroy marriage. We would never object to marriages that last forever. In fact, this bill aims to protect couples — men and women — and their children,” said Padilla.
The neophyte senator said that while he favors marriages to last forever, “the sad reality is that there are marriages that are doomed because of irreconcilable differences.”
Padilla noted that the Philippines is the only country in the world aside from the Vatican that does not recognize divorce even as a 2017 Social Weather Stations survey showed that 53 percent of Filipinos favor divorce for couples with irreconcilable differences.
He said that while Philippine laws allow the annulment of marriage, it is a very costly process. “What if the couple does not have money?” said the senator.
Under a bill filed by Padilla in the Senate, a petition may be filed for divorce if:
- The husband or wife cannot fulfill his/her obligation in the marriage
- Both parties in the marriage have irreconcilable differences
- The marriage was annulled abroad
- The husband or wife is presumed dead in accordance with Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
- A party is convicted of violating the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act”
- There is an attempt on the life of the child of the couple or of the petitioner
- Having children outside the marriage except if both agree to have a child through IVF or similar procedure; or if the woman bears a child after being raped
He said the grounds for annulling the marriage based on the Family Code of the Philippines can also be grounds for divorce:
- Repeated abuses against the petitioner or his/her child
- Both parties have been living separately for two years at the time the petition was filed
- The couple legally separated through a judicial decree under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines
Padilla’s bill also provides for a “mandatory cooling-off period” after the petition is filed.
Meanwhile, the petition for divorce may be dismissed if the two parties submit a verified joint motion or if the court finds evidence of collusion between them.
Earlier in the House of Representatives, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman proposed the “Absolute Divorce Act” that aims to provide absolute divorce for “irremediably broken” marriages with “affordable, expeditious, and inexpensive” court proceedings.
Lagman assured that 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.
Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the legalization of divorce in the country.