Lagman: Panel approval of divorce bill offers hope for marriage in trouble | Inquirer News

Lagman: Panel approval of divorce bill offers hope for marriage in trouble

/ 02:24 PM March 21, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The committee approval of a bill reinstituting absolute divorce in the country will bring couples in broken marriages a step closer to recovery and redemption, women’s rights advocate and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said on Tuesday.

Lagman, in a statement, said that the House of Representatives Committee on population and family relations’ approval of the divorce bill will enable spouses, especially wives in broken and abusive marriages, to get a new chance in life.

“The approval of the substitute bill on absolute divorce for eventual plenary debates assures that the country is now at the threshold of joining the universality of absolute divorce in the community of nations,” he said.


According to the Albay lawmaker, the bill has safeguards against abuse, saying that it would be catered to couples who are in dysfunctional unions — adding that, realistically speaking, not all marriages are headed toward good things.


“While it is said that marriages are solemnized in heaven, the fact is some marriages plummet into hell because of human frailty and imperfections. The Divorce Act seeks to redeem couples, particularly the abused or abandoned wives, from infernal agony,” he said.

“But it must be underscored that a law on absolute divorce is not for everybody. This Act is for the exceptional circumstances of married couples who are marooned in toxic, dysfunctional, and even abusive marriages, particularly for wives who suffer the torment of irreversibly dead marriages,” he added.

The committee deliberated the still unnumbered substitute bill to House Bill (HB) No. 78 — the one authored by Lagman — and other proposals, namely HBs No. 2593, 3843, 3885, 4957, and 4998.

READ: Lagman revives divorce bill

The consolidated version of the bill was approved in principle last February 23.

Lagman also assured critics of divorce that it would not be the worst thing that can happen to a family, as allowing broken marriages to continue based on merely keeping an oath — while enduring “years of physical violence, suffering emotional abuse, tolerating infidelity” and other factors — is worse.


“The State has the responsibility of rescuing couples and their children from homes plagued by discord or a house on fire even as it continues to recognize marriage as a social institution and the foundation of the family.  A divorce petition will undergo a judicial process where proof of the cause for the divorce is established and that the marriage has completely collapsed without any possibility of reconciliation,” Lagman said.

“Quickie, notarial, email, and other speedy drive-thru divorces are prohibited.  There is a cooling-off period of sixty (60) days) after the filing of the divorce petition wherein the judge shall exert earnest efforts to reconcile the parties […]  At any time during the proceedings, if the parties agree to reconcile, the petition is dismissed,” he added.

The Roman Catholic Church — the most dominant Christian denomination in the Philippines — has been adamant against divorce, even if advocates insist that other Catholic countries have already adopted laws allowing the dissolution of marriage.

Currently, the Philippines is one of two countries in the world without a law on divorce — the other being Vatican City, the city-state which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church’s insistence against divorce has prompted lawmakers like Senator Raffy Tulfo to discuss the proposal with religious leaders.

But Lagman maintains that divorce is not against the Catholic faith.

“Divorce is not against the Catholic faith. Even the Bible cites instances when Jesus Christ allowed divorces. All Catholic countries, except the Philippines, have legalized divorce which the Papacy has not condemned. Even the Catholic hierarchy has its own matrimonial tribunal which dissolves marriages similar to a divorce,” he noted.

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“Divorce is an option. An aggrieved party can seek in the proper cases annulment of marriage, legal separation or dissolution of marriage based on psychological incapacity under the Family Code, all of which are expensive and involve a lengthy process, unlike divorce, which is mandated to be expeditious, reasonable, and inexpensive,” he added.

TAGS: divorce, Divorce bill, Lagman

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