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Opposition solon backs Alvarez’s divorce bill

An opposition leader in the House of Representatives on Tuesday backed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s bill to introduce divorce as another option for couples in failed and irreparable marriages.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, head of a technical working group tasked to consolidate four divorce bills, said he sees no hindrance in the approval of the proposed divorce measure.

“Before March 8, the International Day for Women, this bill will be already taken up in the plenary,” Lagman said at a news conference, saying he sees no stiff opposition to the measure.

Alvarez authored House Bill 6027, or “An Act Providing For Grounds For The Dissolution Of A Marriage,” which proposes that a marriage may be dissolved based on irreconcilable differences or severe and chronic unhappiness of the spouses which caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

In his bill, Alvarez proposed chronic unhappiness, as one of the two grounds for allowing a court to dissolve marriage.

But Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said divorce may not be the right prescription for troubled marriage.

Alejano said divorce destroys the sanctity of marriage and weakens the family as an institution.

Mas marami ring maghihiwalay because divorce will be very convenient. Kawawa diyan ang mga anak,” Alejano said.

The House committee on population and family relations chaired by Rep. Sol Aragones of Laguna earlier created a technical working group, headed by Lagman, whose task would be to consolidate all four bills on divorce namely, HBs 116, 1062, 2380, and Alvarez’s HB 6027.

Lagman is the author of House Bill 116 or the proposed “An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce In The Philippines And For Other Purposes.”

Under Lagman’s proposal, the grounds for a judicial decree of absolute divorce are the grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines and grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

HB 1062, titled “An Act Amending Title I, Chapter 3, Of Executive Order 209, Otherwise Known As The Family Code Of The Philippines, Prescribing Additional Ground For Annulment,” is authored by Rep. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte.

The bill seeks to amend Chapter 3 of Executive Order 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines by prescribing additional ground for annulment. The amendment provides that a marriage may also be annulled if the parties have been separated for at least five years.

House Bill 2380, also known as “An Act Introducing Divorce In The Philippines, Amending For The Purpose Articles 26, 55 To 66 And Repealing Article 36 Under Title II Of Executive Order No. 209, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The Family Code Of The Philippines, And For Other Purposes”, is authored by Reps. Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas. The bill seeks to introduce divorce as another option for couples in failed and irreparable marriages.

The bill proposes five grounds for divorce: 1) The petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; 2) The petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; 3) When any of the grounds for legal separation under paragraph (a) of this article has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage; 4) When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and 5) When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

Lagman earlier vowed a smooth passage of the proposed divorce law. “I assure you this bill is easier to enact than the reproductive health bill,” Lagman said, referring to the RH law that took Congress over a decade to pass.

Lagman assured that the petitioner in a divorce bill the TWG is crafting will incur much lesser expenses compared to the Family Code’s annulment of marriage.

“The aggrieved wife, will be exempt from court fees. The court can appoint a counsel to represent the petitioner who can come from the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippins) or other legal aid groups,” he said.

He said the bill will also contain a provision for summary proceedings of divorce cases filed before a court to allow the aggrieved spouse immediate freedom from a marriage troubled with violence.

Psychological incapacity, irreconciliable differences, violence and even transgender surgery are among the grounds that may be cited should a married individual seek separation from the legal spouse and remarry.

Topics: Divorce bills 101 , divorce law
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