THE number of marriage annulment cases in the country is rising at an alarming rate.
This according to Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera, whose office represents the State in all its cases, including the annulment of marriages, which the State has the duty to protect.
Speaking at a recent news forum at Ortigas Center, Devanadera expressed surprise at the number of annulment cases landing on her desk.
From only one or two cases a week in the past, the number of marriage annulment cases received by Devanadera rose to eight cases a week last year.
?We are disturbed by the surge in the number of annulments of marriage filed,? she said.
Statistics from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) showed that 7,753 annulment cases were filed last year compared to 7,138 in 2006.
Before 2006, the number of annulment cases never breached the 7,000-mark.
Pressed to explain the surge, Devanadera said it could be because society now accepted separated couples.
?The society tolerates it. It is now acceptable for a couple to be separated,? she said.
Devanadera said the Church should be aware of the trend and help troubled couples.
?We call on the Church to do something about this,? she said, noting that break-ups had the greatest effect on the children. ?In the end, the losers are the children,? she said.
According to Devanadera, the rising number of annulment cases has also affected the undermanned OSG.
She noted that more cases means more work for her lawyers, who must also represent the government in other cases such as the ownership battle for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and the recovery of the ill-gotten Marcos wealth.
An annulment is the only option for Filipino couples who want to cut and cut cleanly from their marriages since the government does not recognize divorce. The Philippines is the only country, aside from Malta, that has no divorce law.
The last time a divorce bill was introduced in the House of Representatives was in 2005. It was authored by Liza Maza, of the Gabriela Women?s party-list group, who said the annulment process is expensive for most Filipinos and does not answer the needs of women, particularly those suffering from marital abuse.