Lower House officials slam committee approval, 'planned railroading' of divorce bill

Published August 18, 2021, 1:23 PM

by Ben Rosario

Deputy Speaker and Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza on Wednesday, August 18 bewailed the alleged plans in the House of Representatives to railroad the passage of the highly controversial absolute divorce bill following its committee approval on Tuesday.

Divorce 2

Atienza aired the accusation as Deputy Speaker and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Partylist Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva slammed the passage of the bill following a meeting of the House Committee on Population and Family Relations.

Both Atienza and Villanueva are being backed by the country’s largest religious sects, the Catholic El Shaddai and the Jesus Is Lord Ministry, respectively.

Atienza noted surreptitiousness in the conduct of the Tuesday hearing which reportedly barred media coverage.

“The timing of the panel meeting is also suspicious because it was scheduled simultaneously with the Committee on Public Account inquiry into the P67-billion mismanagement of COVID 19 funds,” he pointed out.

“By the time I left the public accounts hearing for the zoom meeting on divorce, the bill had already been approved,” the former Manila mayor said.

According to him the rushed committee action on the divorce proposal approximated the railroaded approval of the controversial bills granting the Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company fresh legislative franchises.

“They can rush all the legislative franchises they want but not measures that would hurt the family and the sanctity of marriage. The 1987 Constitution is very clear, the sanctity of the family is inviolable,” stressed Atienza.

Villanueva also assailed the passage of the consolidated divorce bill.

“CIBAC firmly believes that any law that will effectively downplay the inviolability or the not-to-be-broken status of the family as a social institution is directly and inherently unconstitutional and contrary to the deeply-held Filipino value of preserving and fighting for marriage,” he explained.

“Passing any measure that effectively negates this Constitutional mandate shall foster unabated decay in our families,” the evangelist stressed.

He added: “Marriage, as an inviolate commitment, would now be reduced to a contractual relationship, subject to the whims of unscrupulous individuals.” “While I do understand the plight of marriages that have become hostile and untenable, allowing divorce is not and will never be the answer to problematic unions,” said Villanueva.

The still unnumbered bill consolidated three legislative proposals filed by former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and members of the Makabayan bloc.

Lagman said Speaker Lord Allan Velasco showed his support for the measure when he submitted amendments that the population and family relations panel accepted.

Chaired by Guimaras Rep. Lucille Nava, the approved bill seeks to legalize absolute divorce in the country. The grounds include the following:

1. The grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 2. The grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 3. When the spouses have been separated in fact for at least five (5) years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed, and reconciliation is highly improbable.

4. Psychological incapacity of either spouse as provided for in Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, whether or not the incapacity existed at the time of the marriage or supervenes after the marriage; 5. When one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another; 6. Irreconcilable marital difference which refers to substantial incompatibility of the spouses due to their intransigence or fault by holding on to divergent and divisive behavior resulting to the total breakdown of their marriage which could not be repaired despite earnest efforts to reconcile; 7. Domestic or marital abuse; 8. When a valid foreign divorce has been secured by either the alien or Filipino spouse; and 9. When a marriage is nullified or dissolved by the proper canonical tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church or any other recognized religious sect or denomination.