No personal motive: Alvarez defends push for dissolution of marriage
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said his controversial proposal to pass a law allowing dissolution of marriage was not motivated by personal marital woes, since he belonged to an ethnic group that allowed him to have multiple wives.
“I’m a member of a tribe in Mindanao where we are allowed multiple marriages,” he told a dzBB radio interview.
Alvarez, who admitted in March to having an extramarital affair and being estranged from his wife, said he was a member of the Manobo tribe, an ethnic group protected by Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
That law is silent on marriage though it provides for the “protection of indigenous culture, traditions and institutions.”
Alvarez said the reason he proposed the law on dissolution of marriage was that he wished to address the grievances of couples in unhappy marriages.
“[The process of] annulment is very adversarial. It is very costly and it takes a long time. In hearings, you need to complain about the other party. For me, why do you need to make it so hard on the person?” he said.
In March, Alvarez was forced to confess he had a girlfriend after news reports suggested that the charges he had filed against fellow Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo had been triggered by animosity between Floirendo’s common-law wife and Alvarez’ girlfriend.
The two Davao lawmakers were close friends but fell out soon after rumors circulated that Floirendo was orchestrating a plot to unseat the Speaker. Alvarez has filed a graft case against Floirendo and sought a congressional investigation on alleged conflict of interest in the latter’s lease of government land for his banana company, the Tagum Agricultural Development Corp.
Asked about the objections of the Church to his bill, Alvarez said: “I will invoke the separation of Church and state.”
“The problem is we put so much stock in theocracy; we didn’t look at the issues,” he said,
He said the same was true of his other proposal protecting civil union, including of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) partners.
“We have no law to protect the relationship of these couples. I think the government should not close its eyes on these cases. We need to give them protection, and not to be discriminatory,” Alvarez said.
Under his proposal, partners in civil union shall “have right to support each other, to adopt children, to inherit, and to make an insurance policy [where your partner is your beneficiary].”
To critics, Alvarez said: “If they believe in what we call social justice, they should understand our other brothers and sisters, who are going through hardships.”
“We all live our lives to achieve happiness, not to make it hard on ourselves. Help the government address these pains,” he said./rga
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