Lawmaker hits ‘hypocrisy’ over divorce

Lawmaker hits ‘hypocrisy’ over divorce

Lawmaker hits ‘hypocrisy’ over divorce

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Sunday called out the family-based ministry Couples for Christ (CFC) over what he described as its “religious hypocrisy” on the issue of divorce.

“Let us stop the religious hypocrisy being spread by the Couples for Christ that, because of human weakness, the Philippines must not enact a divorce law but instead mend broken marriages,” Lagman, one of the key proponents of the absolute divorce bill in the House of Representatives, said in a statement.


“It is precisely because of human frailties like marital abuse, infidelity, and abandonment, among other mortal weaknesses, that marriages are totally destroyed beyond repair,” he said.


READ: Couples for Christ to gov’t: Don’t weaken marriage through divorce law

Lagman’s remarks were in response to CFC’s earlier statement, urging the government not to “weaken” marriage through the proposed divorce law and to focus instead on strengthening families.

CFC position

In a manifesto, the group suggested that working rigorously on the implementation of the Philippine Family Code is a “more viable option” that can elevate Filipinos into law-abiding and emotionally stable citizens.

The CFC also noted that children of divorced parents are more inclined to commit crimes and are more prone to mental health problems, suicidal tendencies and poor performance in school.

Lagman emphasized the relevance of Pope Francis’s statement in footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) that “the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” in considering giving the sacrament of communion to divorced and remarried Catholics.

“The sanctity of marriage does not institute an iron-clad union, which fetters and imperils the humanity of spouses,” Lagman said.


READ: Divorce bill finally reaches Senate

“Verily, absolute divorce rescues spouses who are embattled because of their human weaknesses and their suffering children from a house on fire,” he added.

According to him, divorce affords offended spouses, mostly the battered and tormented wives, “to regain their freedom, self-esteem, agency and happiness even as there is a judicial decree on the care, custody and support of the children.”

House Bill No. 9349, or the Act Reinstituting Absolute Divorce as an Alternative Mode for the Dissolution of Marriage, passed on final reading in the lower house on May 22 and has already been transmitted to the Senate as of June 10.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada earlier said the proposed divorce law in the Senate would pass through the eye of a needle.

The bill has remained pending before the Senate committee on rules until now.

If enacted, the bill would “reinstate” divorce in the country and offer spouses a “fourth mode” of dissolving “irreparably broken or dysfunctional marriages” based on limited grounds.

People’s Initiative

The three others allowed under the Family Code are canonical dissolution, annulment and legal separation.

Meanwhile, the CFC said over the weekend that it is prepared to show its numbers and would mount a people’s initiative should divorce become legalized in the country.

“We do pray that the divorce law will not come to pass. But, if and when it comes to pass, Couples for Christ is determined to take the lead in doing the people’s initiative, so that eventually we will be able to repeal that law if it becomes a law of the land,” Dr. Jose Yamamoto, president and chair of CFC, said at a press conference on Saturday in Manila, as the group marked its 43rd anniversary.

According to Yamamoto, the CFC hoped “that there will be like-minded groups to help us be able to develop and pursue a people’s initiative if and when it is needed.”

Founded in 1981, the CFC has about 900,000 members in 160 countries, with around 800,000 in the Philippines.

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People’s initiative is among the modes by which laws can be made in the Philippines. For national laws, it involves first collecting the signatures of at least 10 percent of registered voters, and at least 3 percent of voters per legislative district. Once approved by the Commission on Elections, the petition will be subject to a national referendum, where all voters can choose yes or no.

TAGS: absolute divorce, Edcel Lagman Jr.

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