Talk of extra-marital affairs seems to have prompted the Gabriela Women's Party to remind lawmakers that there's a proposed divorce bill pending in Congress. But the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is firmly against any bill that proposes divorce.
The divorce bill, House Bill No. 2380 or An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines, had been refiled back in August after the 17th Congress first convened. It seeks to amend the Family Code of the Philippines to include divorce as a way for spouses to put an end to their marriages. However, according to the proposed measure, divorce will not replace legal separation or annulment.
Authors of the bill, Gabriela Women's Party Representatives, Emmi A. De Jesus and Arlene D. Brosas, has called for the passing of the law during a time when the public spat between House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floriendo, Jr., has been dominating the news.
The two married congressmen, both of whom are still married, found themselves embroiled in an altercation between their current partners. The situation has become even more complicated -- and heated -- because of Cong. Alvarez's graft charges against Rep. Floriendo. Read more about it here.
"We hope that he (Alvarez) includes divorce in the priority legislative agenda," Brosas said, as reported by PhilStar.com. The women lawmakers also appealed to the speaker to relax annulment rules "because it is one of the legal options that can be used to help couples who are really irreconcilable," she stressed.
House Bill 2380 seeks to move psychological incapacity as one of the causes for divorce, rather than annulment. Aside from psychological incapacity by one or both spouses, the bill lists other grounds for divorce, as follows:
The spouses have been separated without any court decree for at least five years at the time of filing and reconciliation is highly improbable.
The spouses have been legally separated for at least two years at the time of filing and reconciliation is highly improbable.
The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code have caused irreparable breakdown of the marriage. These grounds include repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct against the spouse, a common child, or a child of the spouse; drug addiction or habitual alcoholism; lesbianism or homosexuality; sexual infidelity or perversion; attempt against the life of the spouse; and abandonment without justifiable cause for more than one year, among others.
The spouses have suffered irreconcilable differences resulting in the breakdown of the marriage.
Albay Representative Edcel B. Lagman also filed in June 2016 a legislation that would allow "absolute divorce" in the country and provide a "merciful liberation of the hapless wife from a long-dead marriage." House Bill No. 116 adds a few more grounds for divorce, such as when one secures divorce in a foreign country and gender reassignment surgery.
In light of lawmakers' public admission to indiscretions outside their marriages and the renewed call to push for divorce in the country, the CBCP has reiterated their stand against it, according to a report by Inquirer.net.
"Divorce is not a solution to an extramarital affair. Nor [is] an extramarital affair an excuse for divorce. [An] extramarital affair is cheating," said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, who chairs the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. "It is infidelity, breaking one’s trust and marital vow [and] a grievous sin, plain and simple, even a criminal offense," he added.
The bishop stressed that what the country needs is to protect the stability and sanctity of marriage. "It is the children who suffer most in a break-up of marriage. Divorce will enhance the separation and destruction of family," Santos said.
Gabriela cited in the bill a 2015 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed at least three of five Filipinos are pro-divorce, despite being in a predominantly Catholic country. "We want to help families who believe in the sanctity of marriage and at the same time, to free women and men who are really not okay in their marriages," Brosas said.