Hontiveros: Divorce doesn’t break marriages, abuse does

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday reiterated the need for legalization of divorce in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation, during the first hearing on divorce bills. 

Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, argued that “the divorce or dissolution of marriage bill is pro-marriage, pro-family and pro-children.”

She said that the proposed divorce bills "protect children from abuse and rebuild broken families."

This is contrary to the stance of the Catholic Church which said that divorce is anti-marriage and anti-family. The Philippines is one of the two countries aside from the Vatican where divorce is illegal. 

'Divorce destroys divine order of God'

During the hearing, some representatives of religious groups expressed fear that the bills might result in the breaking up of marriages.

LIVE: Senate hearing into divorce bill

Pastor Augusto Kho of the Intercessors for the Philippines said he disapproves of the divorce bill because it destroys the divine order of God and mankind.

“Absolute divorce is unlimited power eh, parang ‘yung power ng Constitution at power ni God viniolate mo na, (it’s like violating the power of the Constitution and God)” Kho was quoted during the hearing.

Hontiveros, however, stressed that the divorce bills are founded on “constitutional principles.”

Joel Arzaga, vice president of the Alliance for Family Foundation, on the other hand, said the divorce bills contradict the Constitution since the Family Code seeks to protect the family and the marriage as a social institution.

Arzaga speculated that if the bill would be enacted, one in four marriages would end 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 said.

The two proposed divorce bills in the Senate, however, proposes a six-month cooling off period from the filing of petition “as a final attempt of reconciling the concerned spouses.”

Hontiveros said the divorce bill is only expanding the chances for people who are under toxic marriages.

She cited the presence of Article 36 of the Family Code to warrant the declaration of nullity of marriage and also legal separation.

“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),” Hontiveros said in a separate post.

“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,” she added.

'Divorce doesn't break marriages'

Countering those who believe that divorce would only break marriages and families, Hontiveros said that “divorce assumes that marriage has been broken.”

She said that divorce makes people respect marriage more by being 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,” Hontiveros said.

“Nobody wants divorce — it’s painful and heartbreaking and signals end of love, but for those who needs it, it has to be there. We all want a second chance,” she said in her closing remarks.

Department of Social Welfare Development Undersecretary Luz Ilagan agreed with Hontiveros and cited that “the divorce law helps individuals especially women who are suffering various forms of violence from their spouses.”

Ilagan also cited that the divorce would help regain the dignity, self-esteem and worth of women as persons.







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