Sen. Risa Hontiveros reiterated on Tuesday the need to legalize divorce in the Philippines, opposing the stance of the Catholic nation that it is anti-marriage and anti-family.
Hontiveros is the chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, saying that the passing of divorce is “pro-marriage, pro-family, and pro-children.”
She elaborated that the proposed divorce or dissolution of marriage bill hopes to “protect children from abuse and rebuild broken families.”
The stance opposes Catholic Church’s perspective that divorce is anti-marriage and anti-family.
The Philippines and the Vatican are the only countries where divorce is not permitted.
Divorce violates God’s power
Some representatives from religious groups were present during the hearing to express their fear of the possible untying of knots that were bound by God.
Pastor Augusto Kho of Intercessors for the Philippines argued that divorce bill will destroy the divine order of God and mankind.
“Absolute divorce is unlimited power eh, [It seems like violating the power of the Constitution and the power of God],” Kho was quoted during the hearing.
Hontiveros, on the other hand, pointed out that the divorce bills are based on constitutional principles.
The bill contradicts Family Code
Joel Arzaga, vice president of the Alliance for Family Foundation, however, agreed to the religious stance that the bill opposes the Family Code, which seeks to protect families and marriages as social institutions.
Arzaga assumes that once the bill passed and then implemented, one in four marriages would end up in divorce.
“The presence of divorce law will pose a greater prejudice to the families despite the suffering the children may experience. With divorce law, the possibility of reconciliation is eliminated,” Arzaga stressed.
There were two divorce bills proposed bills in the Senate, which asked for a six-month cooling off period from the filing of petition to still attempt a reconciliation of the concerned spouses.
Hontiveros also added that the bill expands the chances of people to let go from their toxic marriages.
“I believe in and support the institution of marriage. I myself was happily married. I have the highest admiration and respect for happy, married couples. Ang kasal, bukod sa pagdiriwang ng pagmamahalan, ay malalim na pagtataya sa tapat na pagsasama [A wedding, aside from a celebration of love, is a deep commitment to the union].”
“However, I also believe that Filipinos, especially women and their children, should have the right to turn the page and be free from abusive relationships,” Hontiveros said while citing the Article 36 of the Family Code that declares the nullity of marriage and legal separation.
“It’s not the divorce that breaks marriage, it’s the abuse”
Contradicts to people who do not believe in marriage, Hontiveros explained that “divorce assumes that marriage has been broken.”
According to her, having a legal separation shows people’s respect to marriage as they could be more discerning about their choices.
“It’s not divorce that breaks the marriage. It’s the abuse or the oppression the lovelessness that preceded it,” she said.
“Nobody wants divorce — it’s painful and heartbreaking and signals end of love, but for those who need it, it has to be there. We all want a second chance,” she concluded.
The Undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare Development, Luz Ilagan, agreed to Hontiveros’ viewpoint. She cited that the law would actually help individuals, especially women, to stop the various forms of violence from their spouses.
She said the divorce would help the women regain their dignity, self-esteem, and worth as human beings.