Absolute divorce bill divides conservative House

Absolute divorce bill divides conservative House

/ 05:54 AM February 22, 2024

House lawmakers on Wednesday sought to temper expectations on the passage of an absolute divorce bill even as it was sponsored for plenary discussions, saying that much still needed to be studied to reconcile religious differences while also acknowledging the need to dissolve marriages under certain conditions.

Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo—a supporter of the measure—said that if House Bill (HB) No. 9349, which seeks to legalize absolute divorce in the country, would be a divisive issue, “I don’t believe it could [be passed] here in the House ….” “It has to be overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the 19th Congress,” he added.

But judging by the initial reactions of lawmakers, the bill principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman faces an uphill battle in the largely conservative House, like similar measures filed previously.


Many of those opposed to it, like Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, expressed concern its passage would lead to more broken homes.


“This bill is not for everybody as the overwhelming majority of Filipino marriages are happy, enduring and loving. They do not need the divorce law,” Lagman said.

Lagman, however, explained that “an absolute divorce law is urgently necessary for marriages which have collapsed and are beyond repair, where the majority of the victims are the wives who have been subjected to cruelty, violence, infidelity, and abandonment.”

He also emphasized that “in the grant of absolute divorce, no marriage is destroyed because the union has long perished.”

Additional grounds

A salient provision of the bill is that in addition to the grounds for dissolution of marriage based on psychological incapacity, annulment of marriage and legal separation, more grounds for divorce have been included: the couple has been separated for at least five years, and reconciliation is not anymore possible, or they have been legally separated for more than two years. Other factors are sex reassignment surgery or sex transition, irreconcilable marital differences and other domestic or marital abuse.

Other members, like La Union Rep. Pablo Ortega, said he would likely vote no on the measure as he himself is working on amending the country’s annulment law.


Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, for her part, said she was still studying her options, although she asserted her belief that there should be a legal framework to dissolve abusive and violent marriages.

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

Under current laws, people in abusive relationships can only seek legal separation and not annulment. The Philippines is one of only two states in the world—the other being the ecclesiastical Vatican—that have yet to legalize divorce, even though Pope Francis himself has liberalized his stance on the issue.

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For 4Ps party list Rep. Jonathan Clement Abalos II, one of the bill’s coauthors, it was mainly for people who need to get out of violent marriages. “We shouldn’t deprive men and women of the right to separate in cases of abusive relationships,” he said.

TAGS: divorce, House

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