Sen. Pia Cayetano open to filing divorce billBy Kate Evangelista
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano is open to filing a divorce bill at the Senate.
In the weekly Kapihan sa Senado media forum, Cayetano said that there was no pending legislation but that the upper chamber had conducted a hearing discussing all provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines.
“I can easily file one. I have no issue with that. It’s just really a matter of going about with it,” Cayetano told reporters.
“The divorce bill is long overdue simply because we prefer to leave untouched issues that we consider sensitive or. Issues that we consider personal but the time has come for us to realize that many things that go on in a families’ home require legislation and require policies that will ensure that the rights of the individuals are protected,” Cayetano said.
She said that the Philippines was the only country in the world which did not have a law on divorce. The conservative Catholic Church, particularly the Catholic Bishop`s Conference of the Philippines has been consistently lobbying against the divorce bill and the Reproductive Health bill because the measures go against the teachings of the Church.
However, Cayetano remains unconvinced.
“All Catholic countries in the world have divorce, so what is our point? We want to be able to say that we are the only country in the world with families that are willing to suffer? We’re the only country in the world, is that something that we are proud of? What does it mean? Does it mean na mapagtiis tayo? Does it mean na ignorant tayo? It just means that the policy makers refuse to look at this issue, that’s what it means,” she said.
She noted that passing the divorce bill required looking into the existing provisions under the Family Code which recognizes annulment and voidable marriages but does not include divorce.
“This must be explored because time and again, I have been confronted with instances where mostly women, sometimes men, are desperate because they are in relationships which are very harmful not to just mental health but also to their physical health,” Cayetano added.
When asked about the reactions of male senators against the passing of a divorce bill, Cayetano said that men, in general, were afraid to confront issues related to personal relationships.
“On the one extent, men are very strong but from another way of looking at it, they seem to be hesitant to explore these issues which are very important. And I believe that is why my campaign to have more women in legislative and policy making bodies because we need to address these issues,” Cayetano said.
“Regardless of our views are, it is our job to discuss these issues,” she added.