Lacson, Dela Rosa: No to ‘unli’ divorce for PH couples
Unlike in other countries where spouses can file for divorce as many times as they want, that option for ending a troubled marriage should be available only once for couples in the Philippines, according to two lawmakers.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Tuesday broached the idea of allowing “once-in-a-lifetime” divorce in the country, lest husbands and wives exploit the system by having “a Las Vegas-style drive-thru wedding and a drive-thru divorce.”
“You err once, you make amends; you err twice, you deserve to suffer,” Lacson said on Twitter.
The Philippines and the Vatican are the only remaining states in the world that disallow divorce.
Lawmakers and advocacy groups pushing for the approval of a divorce bill in the country have been met with strong resistance from the Catholic Church and in Congress itself.
Who can, cannot remarry
Speaking to reporters, Lacson said he would suggest an amendment to make divorce a onetime thing. Under his proposal, the spouse who filed for divorce would not be allowed to remarry, but the one who did not file could do so.
“The former will think a million times before he or she files for divorce since you won’t be able to marry if you were the one who filed for divorce and it was granted,” he said.
“We don’t want to cheapen also the importance of marriage,” he added.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was initially against divorce out of concern for the children, supported Lacson’s proposal, saying it would be beneficial to all parties concerned.
“It’s OK to make a mistake once. But the second time, it’s deliberate, it’s no longer a mistake,” Dela Rosa told reporters.
Upgraded annulment law
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, said his colleagues were more likely to support a measure that would allow the dissolution of marriage than something that would push for divorce.
They would rather go for “an upgraded annulment law,” Sotto said.
“The consensus at this point is—not all—but there is a problem [with] the word divorce. It seems it would be easier for most of us if we would talk about dissolution of marriage. In other words, it’s an upgraded annulment law,” he told reporters.
He explained that in an upgraded annulment law, the requirements for dissolving a marriage could be relaxed. The participation of the Office of the Solicitor General, for example, could be scrapped, he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros moved to gather support for her divorce bill in a meeting with allied advocacy groups on Monday.
Hontiveros said she could not yet say if she would have enough votes for her bill to gain Senate approval, but that she was looking forward to debates on the measure.
“I’m not yet confident, but I am very hopeful, based on the initial statements of my colleagues in the Senate,” she said.
Long, costly process
Mark Luna, a member of the Divorce Advocates of the Philippines, said his group was pushing for divorce because getting an annulment in the country had become costly, entailed a lot of requirements, and often took too long to be approved by the court.
“Why does the state have to tell us that our marriage is null and void from the very beginning? Why can’t we just have one reason why the marriage broke down, which is a more realistic approach in ending irreparable marriages?” Luna told reporters.
To get an annulment, one has to charge his or her spouse with “psychological incapacity,” he noted, but marriages were breaking down because of factors like infidelity and this did not necessarily mean a marriage that was void from the start.
Divorce would give individuals freedom from broken marriages, aside from allowing them to marry again, Luna said. “Marriage becomes a (mere) piece of paper if one spouse violates it.”
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