Divorce Bill scheduled for plenary debate

By Mar S. Arguelles


Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday, Aug. 18, said the Absolute Divorce Bill he filed is up for plenary debates at the House of Representatives.


Lagman, in an emailed statement, said the Committee on Population and Family Relations unanimously approved the unnumbered substitute bill crafted by a Technical Working Group (TWG) chaired by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman who is also the author of House Bill No. 100 on the enactment of an Absolute Divorce Law (ADL).


The other members of the TWG are Reps. Juliet Ferrer, Malou Acosta-Alba, Arlene Brosas, and Ma. Victoria Umali under the overall leadership of Chairperson Ma. Lucille Nava.


No less than House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco favors the enactment of a reinstituted ADL as he submitted the following perfecting amendments, which are now incorporated in the substitute bill: (a) provisions on court-assisted petitioners; (b) community-based pre-nuptial and post-matrimonial programs; (c) community-based women’s desks to provide assistance and support to victims of violence and abuse; and (d) an appropriation language for the bill.


Lagman stressed that“This bill reinstates absolute divorce because absolute divorce was already practiced during the pre-Spanish times, the American colonial period, and during the Japanese occupation.”


The grounds for legal separation, annulment of marriage, and nullification of marriage based on psychological incapacity under the Family Code of the Philippines are included as grounds for absolute divorce and were amended to make these grounds cover causes arising after the solemnization of the marriage.


The other grounds for divorce are the following: (a) separation in fact for at least five years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed; (b) when one of the spouses undergo a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another; (c) irreconcilable marital differences as defined in the bill; (d) other forms of domestic or marital abuse,which are also defined in the bill; (e) valid foreign divorce secured by either the alien or Filipino spouse; and (f) a marriage nullified by a recognized religious tribunal.


The effects of absolute divorce include the voiding of the marital union and capacitating the divorced spouses to remarry.


The Albay solon emphasized that the Philippines is the only country in the world today, which outlaws absolute divorce, aside from the almost celibate Vatican City state.