By Ellson Quismorio
Don’t expect Filipino legislators to come up with an “American style” divorce law that tolerates fickleness when it comes to marriage.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, senior deputy minority leader, said this Thursday, a day after members of the House committee on population and family relations agreed to approve in principle the divorce measure, officially called the Marriage Dissolution Bill.
“We have to note na ‘yung binabalangkas na batas para sa divorce (We have to note that the divorce law being crafted) is different from the [stereotypical] divorce in other jurisdictions like in America na kinasal ka ngayong araw, bukas pwede ka na mag-divorce (where you can get married today, and get a divorce the next day),” Zarate said in a press conference of the Makabayan bloc of lawmakers.
“Mayroon din mga proseso (There will be processes). Ang tawag nga natin dito is (That’s why we’re calling it the) Filipino divorce law that will take into consideration our culture as Filipinos,” he said.
While the pro-divorce measures filed in the 18th Congress still have to undergo consolidation by a technical working group (TWG) composed of the congressmen themselves, the approval in principle basically guarantees that it will hurdle the committee level.
“We have to take note also that one of the principal authors of this law in the 17th Congress is now in the Senate, Senator Pia Cayetano,” Zarate said.
A proposed law in the Lower Chamber or the House needs a counterpart measure in the Senate for it to prosper.
The Marriage Dissolution Bill was passed on third and final reading during the 17th Congress, in March 2018, via nominal voting result of 134-57-2 (yes-no-abstain).
Divorce is a contentious topic in the Philippines, being a predominantly Catholic nation. But the fact that the proposed law was given the final nod of the House during the previous Congress says something.
“We’re seeing positive [developments] in the divorce bill,” Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said in the same press conference.
“Umuusad sa Senate, umuusad sa Lower House. It’s about time, ngayon na, na magkaroon ng divorce sa Pilipinas.” (It’s moving in the Senate, it’s moving in the Lower House. It’s about time, right now, for the Philippines to have a divorce law.)
Zarate and Brosas underscored the importance of having a divorce option for couples with irreconcilable differences, or de facto separated couples who already have their own families.
“Ito ay isang option. Nandun pa rin ‘yung annulment, nandun pa rin ‘yung legal separation,” Brosas said. (This is one option. Annulment and legal separation are still there.)
“Ito ‘yung isang solusyun na gusto natin…para makapagsimula ulit yung mga mag-asawa na hindi na talaga pwedeng pagsamahin,” Zarate said. (This is one solution we want to have…so that couples who can no longer live together can start their lives anew.)