In The Know: Only the Vatican and the Philippines
Apart from the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country in the world without a divorce law after Malta legalized divorce in 2011.
Months after the 15th Congress opened, the party-list group, Gabriela, refiled the controversial divorce bill, saying that legalizing divorce would give “married couples in irreparable marriages another legal remedy that they can resort to in addition to the country’s existing laws on legal separation and annulment.”
Gabriela has been pushing for a divorce law since the 13th Congress. Filed in the current Congress in August 2010, it remains pending at the House of Representatives.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Gabriela said that historically, divorce has been part of the Philippine legal system and was widely practiced by Muslims as well as ancestral tribes in Palawan, Nueva Vizcaya, the Cordilleras, the Visayas and Mindanao.
“Divorce was also available during the American period and during the Japanese occupation,” the refiled measure—renamed House Bill No. 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines)—said. It said it was only after the New Civil Code took effect in August 1950 that divorce was disallowed under Philippine law.
The bill lists five grounds for filing a petition for divorce:
1. Petitioner has been separated de facto (in fact) from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable.
2. Petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable.
3. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations.
5. Any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan stressed that HB No. 1799 would not allow a “no-fault divorce” similar to what is being implemented in Las Vegas.
“HB 1799 was carefully crafted to take into consideration Philippine values and traditions that give utmost importance to the way Filipinos appreciate the family as an institution,” she said. “It will not allow couples to get married today and get divorced tomorrow.” Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives, HB 1799