Separated senator says no to divorce

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09:44 PM June 15th, 2012

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By: Michael Lim Ubac, June 15th, 2012 09:44 PM

Senator Francis Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Francisco Escudero, who parted ways with his wife last year, said he is opposed to the legalization of divorce in the country.

At the Kapihan sa Senado news forum, the senator said the Family Code’s provisions on legal separation and annulment were enough options for addressing dysfunctional marriages.

“In my view, there is a serious disagreement between the government, Congress and the (Catholic) Church over the Reproductive Health bill, so this is not the right time to exacerbate this (rift),” he also said.

The Philippines is the only remaining country outside the Vatican that does not have a divorce law.

Gabriela party-list Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus have filed a bill introducing divorce in the country. It is languishing at the House committee on revision of laws.

Escudero has filed a petition to annul his marriage in 1999 to Christine Elizabeth “Tintin” Flores, with whom he has fraternal twins—a boy and a girl.

Escudero took pains to explain the difference between divorce and annulment.

“Legally, the ground and basis for annulment should have existed at the time you were married,” he said. While in the divorce law in the US, for example, incompatibility is allowed as a legal ground to seek the nullity of marriage.

However, Escudero pointed to “a small window for divorce” in Article 36 of the Family Code.

“There is a catchphrase that allows a small window for divorce. In Article 36 of the Family Code, the basis for psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment must exist at the time of marriage, and this is the questionable phrase, even though it became apparent after the marriage,” he said.

“So it’s a ‘not here nor there’ (provision), which does not jibe with the legal and technical difference of divorce and annulment,” he said.

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