'Significant development' on bill simplifying annulment of marriage hailed

Tingog Party-list has described as a "significant development" the committee level approval of the proposed law seeking civil recognition of church annulment.


This, after the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved in principle House Bill (HB) No.1593 or the “Church Nullity Act of 2022” along with similar bills Thursday, Feb. 23.

The party-list's measure was among the measures endorsed it to a technical working group (TWG) tasked with crafting a substitute measure in consolidation with several other related bills tackled during its hearing.

“On behalf of Tingog Party List, I’d like to thank the committee for its favorable action on 1593. This is a significant development that provides hope for an efficient and more affordable procedure to remedy the situation of couples trapped in an irreparable relationship,” said Rep. Jude Acidre, who co-authored the measure with fellow Tingog Party List Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez.

The action of the committee chaired by Isabela 3rd district Rep. Ian Paul Dy was prompted by Albay 1st Rep. Edcel Lagma's motion to approve eight measures in principle and assign a TWG to craft a substitute proposal on the civil recognition of marriages dissolved by the Catholic Church and other religious denominations.

In his sponsorship speech before the committee, Acidre said that once HB No.1593 becomes a law, a declaration of nullity decreed by the Church will hold as much weight and have the same effect as a civil annulment.

“This removes the burden of undergoing the civil annulment process. As a result, Catholics who have sought annulment in the Church should not anymore be ‘long oppressed by the darkness of doubt’ over whether their marriages already declared null and void should also be recognized as such by the State,” Acidre said.

HB No.1953 proposes that a marriage duly and legally solemnized by a priest, imam, rabbi, or presiding elder of an established church or religion in the Philippines that is subsequently annulled, dissolved or declared a nullity in a final judgment or decree in accordance with the canons and precepts of the church or religious sect, shall have the same effect as a decree of annulment, dissolution or declaration of nullity issued by a competent court.

“A marriage solemnized by the Church therefore should have not only canonical but civil effects as well. Priests, pastors, imams and rabbis who solemnize marriage must have the authority to solemnize granted by the State,” Romualdez and Acidre said in the explanatory note of the bill.

The authors of the measure said their proposal was an offshoot of Pope Francis’ position to simplify the procedures for annulling marriages in the Catholic Church, which is a long and costly process.

“If a marriage can be legitimately contracted under the laws of the Church, then it follows that under the same laws, such marriage can also be nullified or annulled,” they added, noting Pope Francis’ issuance of “Mitis Iudex Dominus lesus,” which streamlined the process of the declaration of nullity of marriage.

Section 3 of the bill states that “the status of children of marriages subject of a decree of annulment or declaration of nullity by the church or religious sect shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines.

In case the grounds for the church annulment or declaration of nullity are not similar to any of the grounds provided in the Family Code, their common children born or conceived before the issuance of the decree of annulment or declaration of nullity shall be considered legitimate, according to the bill.

The bill also proposes that, without prejudice to the conditions set forth by the church or religious sect, either of the former spouses may marry again after complying with the requirements of Section 5 and Article 52 of the Family Code, otherwise the subsequent marriage shall be null and void.