Bill reinstating divorce now brought to House plenary

Bill reinstating divorce now brought to House plenary

/ 11:29 PM February 20, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines — A bill that seeks to reinstate divorce was brought to the House plenary for consideration and debate during Tuesday’s session.

House Bill (HB) No. 9349 or the Absolute Divorce Act, as contained in Committee Report No. 962, was sponsored by different lawmakers — including staunch divorce advocate Albay 2nd District Rep. Edcel Lagman, Cebu 3rd District Rep. Pablo John Garcia, Negros Occidental 4th District Rep. Juliet Ferrer, and Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas.


According to Garcia, the Philippines remains the only country in the world which does not have divorce as a way for dissolving failed marriages — save for the Vatican, a small city-state which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church that advocates against divorce.


“As we all know and are frequently reminded, the Philippines remains the only country in the world that has not legalized divorce aside from Vatican City.  And yet unlike Vatican City, which is a small city-state consisting of 800 individuals — mostly religious and unmarried, the Philippines is not exempt from the crisis of failed, unhappy marriages,” he said.

Lagman meanwhile assured people who are against divorce that this method is a mere option — meaning it will not be the only way to dissolve marriages because of the presence of annulment.  However, Lagman stressed that divorce allows a second chance in love, as divorced couples can remarry again.

“Divorce is only an option. Qualified spouses may or may not petition for divorce, or they may avail of dissolution of marriage based on psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code, annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code, or legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code,” Lagman said.

“A divorce decree entitles the parties the right to remarry and have another chance at marital bliss.  The divorce decree shall include and protect spousal support, children’s support and custody, and respect of the children’s legitime, as well as the interest of creditors,” he added.

Brosas, meanwhile, noted that they have been calling for the legalization of divorce in the country since Gabriela got a seat in the 13th Congress — hoping that divorce gets legalized now as it would free married women from failed — and worse, abusive marriages.


“In 2005, Gabriela Women’s Party filed a bill to legalize divorce in the Philippines. Almost twenty years later, the push to allow divorce as one of the ways by which to dissolve a marriage is still ongoing. And here we are today before the plenary to once again discuss legalizing divorce in the Philippines,” she said.

“We in Gabriela Women’s Party believe that beyond being part of this huge global circle, legalizing divorce is a means for abused women to be free from their domestic situation and allow them the opportunity to live a new life, free from violence and abuse,” she added.

Under HB No. 9349 — which the bill’s authors say is a pro-woman legislation — the following are considered grounds for absolute divorce:

  • Physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner
  • Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation
  • Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in
  • prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement
  • Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six (6) years, even if pardoned
  • Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling of the respondent
  • Homosexuality of the respondent
  • Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad
  • Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person other than one’s spouse during the marriage, except when upon the mutual agreement of the spouses, a child is born to them through in vitro fertilization or a similar procedure or when the wife bears a child after being a victim of rape
  • Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner
  • Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one (1) year.
  • When the spouses are legally separated by judicial decree for more than two (2) years, either spouse can petition the proper
  • Family Court for an absolute divorce based on said judicial decree of legal separation

READ: Filipinos demand right to divorce: ‘We want to break free’ 

During the sponsorship period, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez asked that he be included in the list of interpellators, expressing concerns that divorce would open the floodgates of broken families.

READ: Divorce bill gets Senate panel’s nod 

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“This representation is a hundred percent against absolute divorce in the country […] if you go to the countries that have allowed divorce, it has open the floodgates for broken families — they go to the wedding and when they go there, they say oh anyway if I commit a mistake, there is divorce and we can just part,” Rodriguez said.

Several groups advocating rights of Filipino women have called for the legalization of divorce, so that they can escape violent spouses.  As of now, in the Senate, a similar measure has been approved by the committee on women, children, family relation and gender equality.

TAGS: divorce, House

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