Latest Stories

Divorce bill next–Belmonte

PH only country in the world where divorce is still banned


DIVORCE NEXT Speaker Belmonte: I’m in favor of the divorce bill. ARNOLD ALMACEN

While Roman Catholic bishops and prolife groups were still recovering from their crushing defeat on the reproductive health (RH) bill, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte dropped yet another bombshell—he wants a divorce law in predominantly Catholic Philippines.

“Me, I’m in favor of the divorce bill,” Belmonte said Tuesday when asked during a pre-Christmas lunch with reporters.

But he admitted that passing a divorce bill would have to wait because congressmen would be busy campaigning for next year’s midterm elections.

Asked if a divorce law would be passed in the next Congress, Belmonte—who described himself as a Christian—said he didn’t know what the composition of the House of Representatives would be then, “but I think so.”

After Malta legalized divorced last year, the Philippines has become the only country in the world—apart from the Vatican—without a divorce law.

Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of the militant group Gabriela have a pending bill seeking to amend the Family Code to include a divorce provision.

Belmonte said the measure remained at the committee level and was unlikely to be passed soon.

“Not this time, but it’s there at the back of our minds,” he said. “I just want the idea to be there … I want that to remain in the consciousness of congressmen so at some point, we can take it up again.”


Failed, unhappy marriages

In their explanatory note to House Bill No. 1799, Ilagan and De Jesus said their divorce proposal was in line with “the policy of the State to protect and strengthen marriage and the family as basic social institutions.”

“Reality tells us that there are many failed, unhappy marriages across all Filipino classes,” they said. “Many couples, especially from the marginalized sectors who have no access to the courts, simply end up separating without the benefit of legal processes.”

The two lawmakers said “cultural prescriptions and religious norms keep many couples together despite the breakdown of their marriages.”


Bigger fight

“While absolute fidelity is demanded of wives, men are granted sexual license to have affairs outside marriage. Yet when the marriage fails, the woman is blamed for its failure,” they added.

But Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez—an opponent of the RH bill—rejected the divorce proposal, warning it would further erode family values.

“If we opposed the RH bill, the more that we will oppose a divorce bill,” Rodriguez told the Inquirer. “This will definitely destroy families and the future of their children.”

Rodriguez did not appear surprised that discussions on a divorce law were now happening, especially after Congress passed the RH bill despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

He earlier warned that an RH law would open a “pandora’s box” of related demands, such as legislation on abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage.

“That’s the progression,” he said. “All they need is a crack to open and change our values system.”


A covenant, a ‘mystery’

The Church considers marriage a “covenant” and has long opposed divorce, allowing annulment but under strict conditions.

“Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes,” according to the Catechism of the Church.

“The Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its ‘mystery,’ its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal ‘in the Lord’ in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.”

Belmonte justified his preference for a divorce law, saying: “If your lives are no longer tolerable, why (not divorce)?”

Now that Congress has passed the RH bill, he said he would reach out to Catholic bishops.

“I would, definitely I would,” he said. “I don’t see any lasting acrimony between us.”

Grounds for divorce

HB 1799 cites five grounds for divorce, among them “irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.”

Divorce can also be sought if the “petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable.” Legal separation from a spouse “for at least two years” is also a ground, according to the bill.

“When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations,” he or she could also file for divorce. Any of the existing grounds for legal separation that has caused “irreparable breakdown of marriage” could also be a ground.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Catholic Church , Congress , Divorce bill , Family Code , Feliciano Belmonte , Legislation , Religion , RH bill , Social Issues

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  2. Name names, Lacson told
  3. Santiago: Enrile, Lacson, Reyes plotting massive psywar operation
  4. Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  5. Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  6. Ex-COA chief nabbed for plunder
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  9. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  10. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano


  • Pope in hot water over ‘personal’ phone calls
  • Foreign food aid drying up in North Korea
  • Cayetano to DOJ: Bare Napoles’ list of ‘pork’ officials
  • Drunk passenger triggers Bali hijack alert
  • Businesswoman allegedly killed by husband, brother-in-law
  • Sports

  • Guiao fined P100,000 for ‘mongoloid’ comment vs Meralco forward
  • Hawks and Grizzlies revel in home wins
  • Floyd: Manny’s power gone
  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet
  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • BDO nets P5.5 B in Q1
  • Pacquiao may be 2013 top taxpayer
  • Emperador nets P1.7 B in Q1
  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Corruption not invincible after all
  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • Global Nation

  • Plane lands at Bali airport in suspected hijacking—Indonesia air force
  • Obama lands in Seoul as N. Korea nuclear test fears grow
  • Militant protests vs Obama, US set
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • China welcomes PH apology
  • Marketplace