Divorce bill: Villanueva says no, Ejercito weighs options but signs panel report
MANILA, Philippines — Make no mistake, the signatures of nine senators in a committee report legalizing divorce in the Philippines do not equate majority support in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva made this clear on Thursday as he stands firm against a measure that would allow an absolute divorce in the country.
“Divorce is a big NO for me! YES to making annulment accessible to the poor,” Villanueva said in a statement.
Villanueva explained that the approval of any measure at the committee level is part of the legislative process.
“Lahat po ng miyembro ng Senado ay malayang nakakapagsagawa ng mga hearing na na-re-refer sa kani-kanilang komite,” he said.
(All members of the Senate are free to conduct hearings referred to their respective committees.)
“Ngunit gusto lamang po nating iklaro na hindi po majority ng lahat ng miyembro ng Senado ang 9 na lagda. Marami po sa ating kasamahan ang pumirma sa committee report para lamang po mapag-usapan na ito sa plenaryo,” the Majority Leader pointed out.
(However, we would like to clarify that the 9 signatures do not represent the majority of all Senate members. Many of our colleagues signed the committee report just to facilitate its discussion in plenary.)
On September 18, the Senate committee on women headed by Senator Risa Hontiveros released a report on Senate Bill No. 2443, which seeks to expand the grounds for dissolution of marriage.
Included in the bill is a provision for an absolute divorce.
Nine senators signed the panel report, including the five authors of the bill—Hontiveros, and Senators Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla, Senators Pia Cayetano, and Imee Marcos.
The four other signatories are Senators JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.
Ejercito admitted that he signed the committee report so the bill could be elevated to the plenary for further discussions.
“We will weigh the pros and cons. Hindi pa naman ito botohan…” he said at a press briefing in the Senate.
“So far I’m still weighing options,” the senator said.
He nevertheless recognized that there are relationships that are “shaky,” “irreparable” and “irreconcilable” and therefore deserve to be given a fresh start.
“Meron kasi talagang relationship that are already irreparable. We don’t want people to be miserable,” Ejercito said.
Villanueva shared this sentiment.
“Alam rin nating mayroong mga pagsasama, lalo na po kung nauuwi sa karahasan, ay dapat na pong wakasan. Dito po papasok ang annulment at declaration of nullity of marriage,” he said.
(We also know that there are relationships, especially when they become violent, that should be ended. This is where annulment and declaration of nullity of marriage come into play.)
“Mas nararapat pong padaliin natin ang prosesong kaakibat nito, at gawin itong mas accessible sa lahat, anuman ang estado sa buhay,” Villanueva said.
(It’s better if we streamline the processes and make it more accessible accessible to everyone, regardless of their circumstances in life.)