House OKs divorce bill: ‘No monster’

House OKs divorce bill: ‘No monster’

/ 05:38 AM May 23, 2024

House OKs divorce bill: ‘No monster’

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman —official Facebook page of Edcel Lagman

MANILA, Philippines — In a 129-120-9 vote, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading a bill allowing absolute divorce in the country.

For the author, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the bill advancing this far “was a clear and resounding victory and signals the imminent liberation for Filipino wives who are entombed in toxic, abusive and long-dead marriages.”


House Bill No. 9349 gives spouses a fourth mode of dissolving what Lagman called a “irreparably broken or dysfunctional marriage” based on limited grounds. The other three allowed under the Family Code are canonical dissolution, annulment and legal separation.


READ: House divorce bill moves; no action from senators

The last time a divorce bill emanating from the House hurdled final reading was in the 17th Congress, during the first half of the Duterte administration, but it eventually languished in the Senate.

The latest House bill, which underwent nine days of floor debates, is likely to face an uphill battle in the Senate, aside from the expected all-out opposition from the Catholic Church.

‘Inequalities, violence’

The current Senate version of the divorce bill, which was filed by Senators Risa Hontiveros, Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla, Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos, was approved at the committee level last year—a first since 1986—but had yet to move forward.

The Philippines and the Vatican are the last two states yet to legalize divorce.

In a statement, Lagman on Wednesday assured critics of the measure that a divorce law would not destroy marriages because “divorce does not put asunder a marriage as the union has long perished. What will be before the Family Court is a cadaver of a marriage.”


“Divorce is not the monster plaguing a marriage. It is marital infidelity, abandonment, violence and cruelty, among others, which are the devils that destroy marriages,” he said.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, another opposition lawmaker applauding the bill’s progress, said “This measure will give a much-needed option for women and families who are caged in broken marriages, especially those where violence is involved.”

“This would not destroy the sanctity of marriage, but this is just an acknowledgment that some marriages just simply get to a point where it becomes irreparable.”

Most vocal opponents

“It is easy to paint Filipino families as perfect, devoid of any form of conflict and abuse. But in reality, political, economic, and social realities strain marital relationships. Many women face inequalities and violence that undermine the ideals of marriage,” said another allied lawmaker, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.

During the vote on third reading, among the most assertive of the 120 members who voted no were Cagayan Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“We are becoming a liberal country like America,” Abante said. “I just hope that this divorce bill will be something that cannot be taken advantage of by some people. We don’t want this bill to become a tool (to destroy marriages).”

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“We should have realized that annulment and legal separation exist to remedy problematic marriages without rebeling against God, insulting Him, and drawing the curses of disobeying Him,’’ Cibac Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva said, explaining his opposition. “May God have mercy on our nation!”

TAGS: 19th Congress, Divorce bill, Edcel Lagman

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