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Divorce bill passed by House now heads to Senate

By Jason Neola


CONGRESSMAN Gabriel H. Bordado Jr. of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur once again voted against the proposed divorce bill, reflecting the conservative stance of his constituents in the city of Naga.


Naga, often considered the heart of Roman Catholicism in the Bicol Region, houses the Archdiocese of Caceres and hosts the annual Peñafrancia festival, the largest Marian devotion in Asia.


“In Naga, the influence of Catholicism is profound, extending beyond the city to the entire 3rd district and other areas of the Bicol Region. This has significantly shaped the mind-sets of my constituents,” Bordado stated.


He emphasized that despite their political maturity and progressiveness, his constituents tend to hold conservative views on issues with religious undertones, such as divorce.


During a House session, Bordado elaborated, “In the 17th Congress, the issue of divorce hardly garnered support from my constituents. Informal surveys conducted by my staff revealed that an overwhelming majority oppose divorce. As their representative, it is my duty to defend their stance. Therefore, I am voting NO to the divorce bill.”


Despite Bordado’s opposition, the absolute divorce bill has made substantial progress in the House of Representatives. On May 22, 2024, the bill was approved on final reading with 131 lawmakers in favor, 109 against, and 20 abstentions. This marks a significant step towards allowing absolute divorce in the Philippines.


The process of how a bill becomes a law in the Philippines involves preparing and submitting the bill to the House of Representatives, where it undergoes three readings, debates, amendments, and voting; the approved bill is then transmitted to the Senate for the same process; if there are differences between the two chambers’ versions, a conference committee reconciles them; finally, the bill is sent to the President for signing into law or veto.


The bill, House Bill No. 9349, principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, was earlier approved on second reading on May 16, 2024. It allows absolute divorce as an alternative to dissolving irreparably broken marriages and aims to protect children from the adverse effects of their parents’ conflicts.


House Bill No. 9349 specifies grounds for divorce, including legal separation, annulment, prolonged separation, psychological incapacity, irreconcilable differences, and domestic abuse. It also provides the right for divorced spouses to remarry.


However, the bill faces strong opposition from the Catholic Church. Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy, in an interview with Radio Veritas, urged Congress to focus on strengthening marriage and family rather than promoting divorce. “Divorce weakens the fabric of society and contributes to the erosion of moral values,” Uy argued, advocating for policies that support stable family units.


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