Gabriela urges Alvarez to solve GF tiff: Legalize divorce
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas on Monday said it is time Congress passes a divorce law following the revelation of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s girlfriend outside marriage.
During the “Ugnayan sa Batasan” forum at the House of Representatives, Brosas said now that cat is out of the bag, Alvarez should include in his legislative agenda the bill legalizing divorce in the country.
Philippines and the Vatican are the only states in the world where divorce is prohibited.
“Sana ilagay niya as much as possible sa legislative agenda niya ‘yung usapin ng divorce, na legal option na pwedeng magamit para sa paghihiwalay ng mag-asawa na irreconcilable talaga,” Brosas said.
(I hope he can possibly include in his legislative agenda the divorce as a legal option for couples to separate due to their irreconcilable differences.)
In Gabriela’s divorce bill House Bill 2380, a couple may enter into divorce if at least one condition is met:
- The petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least 5 years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
- The petitioner has been legally separated from the spouse for at least 2 years at the time of the filing and reconciliation is highly improbable;
- When any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;
- When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;
- When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
A Social Weather Stations survey in 2014 also found three of five Filipinos surveyed favor divorce.
“Gusto natin tulungan ang mga pamilya na naniniwala sa sanctity of marriage, at the same time, gusto mapalaya ang mga kalalakihan at kababaihan na hindi na okay sa kanilang marriages,” Brosas said.
(We want to help the families who believe in the sanctity of marriage, at the same time, those who want to free men and women who are no longer okay with their marriages.)
Brosas said the existing legal remedies such as legal separation and annulment of marriage take a tedious process, as opposed to divorce which would be a quick fix solution to estranged couples.
“Napakahirap patunayan lalo sa mga cases na kailangan ng psychologist. Matagal yung proseso, unlike sa diborsyo. ‘Yun po ang magandang i-explore ng mga kababayan natin kung paano makakatulong,” Brosas said.
(These cases are difficult to prove especially if it requires a psychologist. The process takes a long time, unlike with divorce. Divorce is a better option to explore as more beneficial to our citizens.)
The militant women’s group Gabriela party-list earlier slammed Alvarez for “flaunting” his affairs as if having an extramarital affair is “ordinary and acceptable.”
Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, for his part, said it’s about time the country allows couples with irreconcilable differences to have a legal remedy to separate.
“Siguro bigyan na lang ng way out legally by approving divorce (Maybe we should give them a way out legally by approving divorce),” said Barbers, who also filed a bill proposing the separation of couples for five years as another ground for annulment.
Brosas however lamented the “double standards” when Speaker Alvarez criticized Senator Leila De Lima for her affair with her driver who was accused of being her bagman in the alleged Bilibid drug trade, while downplaying his own affair as a reality among lawyers.
In admitting his affair with Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio, Alvarez told House reporters: “Diyos ko naman kayo naman, sino bang walang girlfriend?” (My God, come on, who doesn’t have a girlfriend?)
President Rodrigo Duterte himself backed his bosom buddy Alvarez for his affair by dismissing it as a normal scenario among lawmakers, even though he also branded as “immoral” De Lima’s affair with her driver Ronnie Dayan.
“We’re all hypocrites here. Pati si Speaker… Ba’t matanong ilan (ang babae)? Lahat kami dito wala nang ranggo kapag ganu’n. Sino bang walang kaligayahan?” the President said on Sunday.
(Even the Speaker… why ask how many women? All of us here won’t hold ranks if it’s like that. Who doesn’t have happiness?)
Brosas urged the President not to normalize the affairs of male lawmakers while condemning the affairs of their female counterparts.
“Alam nating may double standard… Kaya nga ang sinasabi natin, impluwensiyahan natin ang bawat isa at Presidente sa kaniyang mga sinasabi na huwag tayo mag-perpetuate ng mga kamalian kaugnay sa pagtingin sa kababaihan,” Brosas said.
(We all know there is double standard… That’s why what we’re saying is, we hope to influence each other and the President himself not to perpetuate the wrong perception about women.)
Alvarez’s admission of her relationship with Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio outside his marriage with Emelita Alvarez raised the specter of his possible disbarment by the Supreme Court.
His admission also challenged his moral high ground when he criticized Senator De Lima, a vocal administration critic, for her affair with her driver accused of being her bagman in the Bilibid drug trade. De Lima and her driver Ronnie Dayan are detained on drug trade-related charges.
“Kailangang ipakita sa taumbayan kung anong klaseng tao ito, ano ang kanyang karakter (We have to show the people what kind of person she is, what her character is),” Alvarez then said of De Lima, who faced a House probe on the drug trade allegations.
Alvarez denied criticizing De Lima for her affairs, noting that he criticized the senator over the drug allegations.
The affair has also raised the issue of double standard — the tolerance and acceptance toward men’s affairs, while branding as immoral and damaging to a woman her own relationships outside marriage.
Malacañang has denied there is double standard in Alvarez’s admission of the affair, noting that the accusations against De Lima are related to the alleged drug trade.
The Speaker’s affair gained public attention after he filed a graft complaint against his friend now foe Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. over the latter’s banana firm’s alleged disadvantageous contract with government.
He sued Floirendo amid reports that their girlfriends had a spat. Floirendo’s partners Cathy Binag confirmed the altercation with Vicencio during last year’s Masskara Festival in Bacolod city.
The Speaker however denied he sued Floirendo in retribution for his girlfriend. He dared his critics to disbar him, noting that all lawyers have girlfriends anyway
Besides disbarment, public officials also face administrative liabilities and suspension for the immorality of having an affair. Just recently, the Ombudsman suspended Mayor Denny Refol of Altavas, Aklan, for six months after he was found guilty of immoral conduct for fathering a child from another woman. JE
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.