Makati Court annuls marriage of staunch divorce advocate ex-Speaker Alvarez

Published August 29, 2021, 1:02 PM

by Ben Rosario

Former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, a fierce advocate of divorce in the country, on Saturday, August 29 confirmed that his petition for annulment of his marriage to his estranged wife has been granted by a Makati City judge.

Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez

Alvarez posted the news of the granting of his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage with Emelita Apostol in a twitter message the other day.

Makati City Judge Liza Marie R. Picardal-Tecson of Regional Trial Court Branch 144 released the decision on August 27.

“Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is Granted,” Judge Picardal-Tecson ruled.

“Consequently, the Court hereby: 1. Declares the marriage between Pantaleon Diaz-Alvarez and Emelita Villanueva Apostol Alvarez as null and void ab initio for lack of marriage license and failure to comply with Article 52 of the 
Family Code,” the decision stated.

In his twitter post, Alvarez wrote: “Alvarez has been an advocate of divorce and dissolution of marriage for spouses with irreconcilable differences.”

“Having reviewed the evidence presented by both parties, it appears that petitioner (Alvarez)met the burden of proof required in civil cases,” Alvarez posted, quoting the judge.

Picardal-Tecson also ordered the Office of the Civil Registrar and the Civil Registrar General to cancel the marriage record of the couple.

The court also declared dissolved the couple’s absolute community of property.

Alvarez’s wife used to be the president of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. during the solon’s stint as speaker that started 2016.

Alvarez started pushing for the legalization of divorce in the country during his term as speaker. A divorce bill he filed hurdled the Lower House but failed to get support in the Senate.

On August 17, the House Committee on Population and Family Relatioins chaired by Guimaras Rep. Lucille Nava approved the consolidated version of three divorce measures filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the Makabayan bloc congressmen and Alvarez.

The bill, Lagman said, enjoys the support of incumbent Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

However, the committee approval was tainted with controversies as it was passed on a “an executive session” although there were no justification for calling for such method of panel deliberation on a measure.

Deputy Speakers Lito Atienza, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Rodante Marcoleta, who enjoy the support of three of the country’s largest religious sects, have rejected the divorce measure.

Atienza aired the suspicion that passage of the measure will again be railroaded like what happened during the term of Alvarez as House leader.

Under the recently consolidated bill, the following are included as grounds for divorce: 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