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âProposed divorce law wonât be easy way out of marriageâ
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, author of one of three divorce bills approved last week by the House committee on population and family relations, said the measure has very strict requirements that would prevent couples from seeking divorce for mere convenience.
The STAR/Boy Santos

‘Proposed divorce law won’t be easy way out of marriage’

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed divorce law will not be an easy way out of marriage, according to a proponent in the House of Representatives.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, author of one of three divorce bills approved last week by the House committee on population and family relations, said the measure has very strict requirements that would prevent couples from seeking divorce for mere convenience.

“This divorce law is not for everybody... We have stricter provisions as compared to the US. We are not for quickie divorce like the Las Vegas style,” he told The Chiefs on One News last Friday evening.

Lagman explained that their bills have safety measures to ensure that only “exceptional cases” of couples with “irremediably damaged marriage” will benefit from this measure.

He pointed out that under the proposed law, a prosecutor would be assigned to determine within six months after filing of the divorce petition if the grounds are valid or if there is collusion between parties. The court would also apply a judicial dispute resolution mechanism and try to reconcile the parties within this period.

Divorce, he added, is necessary because the current options under the Family Code – legal separation, annulment of marriage and declaration of nullity – do not give complete reliefs to qualified parties.

According to him, legal separation only grants separation “in bed and board” but does not grant severance of marriage bond, while annulment would allow re-marriage only on grounds prior to or simultaneous to the solemnization of marriage.

“Divorce will allow grounds that are supervening or during the marriage like marital infidelity, domestic violence, chronic gambling and engagement in illegal drugs and at the same time allow re-marriage,” Lagman said.

“These (grounds) are not covered by the current provisions in Family Code. We are just trying to give relief to parties and also protection to children who suffer and witness daily torment and stress,” he added.

As expected, the Catholic Church has expressed strong opposition to the proposal.

But Minority Leader and Manila 6th district Rep. Benny Abante Jr., a pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church, said he would support the proposed divorce law if the existing options under the Family Code would be removed.

“In essence I’m OK with divorce for as long as it will supersede and replace all other options like annulment and legal separation, so that it won’t be like a matter of multiple choice,” he told The Chiefs in the same episode.

Abante stressed though the need for strict requirements so the law would not be abused or become a convenient way out of marriage.

He stressed that divorce in is the Bible.

He explained that while the Old Testament was strict in saying that “what God has joined together, let not man separate,” this was changed in the New Testament when Jesus Christ said a man can divorce but cannot remarry.

He cited a verse from Matthew: “He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Abante said this showed that divorce may be justified by the ground of marital infidelity.

But as a pastor, he said he still believes that divorce is not morally correct because it destroys the sanctity of marriage and the family.

During the 17th Congress, the Lower House approved the bill on absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage on third and final reading. However, it did not get the same approval from the Senate. Proponents in the House are hopeful that the measure would move in the Senate in this 18th Congress.

EDCEL LAGMAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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