Divorce, dissolution bills backed, what now?


More Filipinos are accepting the House Bill on absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage that was approved by the House of Representatives and has been transmitted to the Senate, but for one clause that seeks to make sure that the children of divorcing couples must be fully protected by law.

In separate interviews, citizens were hopeful President Rodrigo Duterte would eventually be convinced especially by the authors of House Bill 7303 led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano to approve the proposed law. The Chief Executive had expressed reservations on the bill.

“Why stay together under one roof when they are just fooling themselves, and that really happens when couples stay too long without affection because they already love another,” Robert Tony Marquez, 36, a City Hall employee who added he was lucky he has a strong and happy family.

A call center agent, Victoria Tanes, 45, of Diliman, Quezon City, is in favor of the House bills if these are really much better than annulment of marriage which she said was expensive and not that effective.

Having only one child, Tanes, admitted she is separated because her husband is living with another woman. She is hoping that the proposed law would be the answer to her marital problems.

Kids’ protection paramount

“If that bill provides real full protection to children, I favor it and it is certain lawmakers led by Speaker Alvarez can convince President Duterte,” according to Ismael Santos, 65, founder of a volunteer group called Agila ng Bayan.

Jovita Clamen, 58, a widow from Barangay Tandang Sora, Quezon City and former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), is optimistic that the approved House bill will be approved at the Senate so that failed marriages will be resolved by having the couple go separate ways for good.

“Until now, I and the father of my two kids are living under one roof but it’s all a farce as we are only after the welfare of our kids which is wrong but what I know is that the annulment of marriage is expensive and takes long to resolve in the court,” she told this writer.

Process should be affordable

Popoy Panizal, 59, a Malabon City resident who works at a construction firm in Quezon City, said he was not in favor of the measure that dissolves marriage.

“As a devout Catholic, I am not in favor of that bill. When couples are married, they made vows and accepted that what God had put together, let no man put asunder,” said Panizal.
Just the same, those who favored the measure said lawmakers must make sure that it has provisions that protect the interests of the children.

Voting 134 in the affirmative, 57 in the negative, and two abstentions, the chamber approved HB 7303, or the proposed Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.

The bill provides that after the divorce becomes effective, the marriage bonds will be severed and former spouses will have the right to marry another person either by civil or religious ceremony.

The measure also ensures the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce will be affordable and inexpensive, particularly for indigent litigants and petitioners.

Grounds spelled out

The bill states that the grounds for the granting of absolute divorce are bases for legal separation and annulment of marriage under the Family Code of the Philippines, separation in fact for at least five years, legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years, psychological incapacity, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences, and joint petition of spouses.

A mandatory six-month cooling-off period as also stressed in the bill. During this period, the court will not start the trial for absolute divorce six months after the filing of the petition. This is for the judge to have enough period to try to reunite and reconcile the parties.

Aside from these, the bill also provides for an option for a one-time grant of alimony, or the allowance for support made under the court to a divorced person by the former spouse.

There is also an option for delivering the presumptive legitime, or the portion of a parent’s estate, which he or she cannot give to the children as inheritance, if the spouses are still living.

If the divorce bill becomes a law, the Philippines will join every country and territory in the world, except the Vatican, that allows divorce.

Alvarez believed that the President will reconsider his reservations on the Absolute Divorce Bill.

Digong’s concern appreciated

“The President’s concern is appreciated. If we have to explain, especially the principal sponsors and the committee, we will” Alvarez was quoted as saying.

Alvarez consistently stressed that the bill underwent a thorough legislative study, thus it has provisions that would ensure that the welfare of all parties involved in the divorce will be protected.

Cayetano said that she is optimistic that the Senate will not outrightly reject HB 7303.

“Over the long break, I understand that groups and individuals supporting these bills, our overseas filipino workers, have sent their position papers to the Senate secretariat and the office of the senators,” Cayetano said in her text message to Daily Tribune.

They also posted messages, including video testimonials, to the social media pages of senators, she said.

“I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to a number of my former colleagues and they said they are open to the bill,” she added.