Women workers support divorce bill

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Women workers support divorce bill
“We urge our senators to seriously consider and pass a bill finally legalizing divorce,” Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa-Women said in a statement.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Women workers yesterday expressed support for the immediate passage of the absolute divorce bill, saying it would protect women and families from abuse.

“We urge our senators to seriously consider and pass a bill finally legalizing divorce,” Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa-Women said in a statement.

“Instead of the collapse of morality that conservatives are obsessed about, the legalization of this practice is a needed respite for the many women and families that are forced to suffer in silence,” the group noted.

Sentro called on President Marcos to certify House Bill 9349 as urgent.

The House of Representatives on May 22 approved on third and final reading the absolute divorce bill, voting 131-109 with 20 abstentions.

The bill’s transmittal to the Senate for concurrence is on hold pending questions on how votes were counted, as the House leadership had erroneously reported 126 affirmative votes, later correcting it to 131.

Its passage on third reading is a positive development that must be followed by the Senate, Sentro said.

The Philippines, a secular state, is the last country in the world outside the Vatican that has not legalized divorce.

Five senators against

The fate of the divorce bill remains uncertain in the Senate, with five senators – including the Senate President – so far against it, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada.

Estrada surveyed 24 senators on their stance on the divorce bill.

Among those who replied, Senate President Francis Escudero, majority leader Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, Ronald Dela Rosa and Estrada himself are against divorce.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros – the main proponent of the Senate version of the divorce bill – Robin Padilla, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano and Raffy Tulfo support the measure.

The Senate version of the bill was approved by Hontiveros’ committee on women and family relations last year but it has yet to be forwarded to the plenary for interpellation.

Escudero yesterday explained that he opposed the House version of divorce as it lacked a provision allowing the Public Attorney’s Office to take on divorce cases for indigents.

Estrada’s survey did not include the positions of former Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, minority leader Koko Pimentel, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Bong Go, Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Cynthia and Mark Villar.

Zubiri, who has been vocal about his position against divorce, yesterday said he is a “conservative senator. I’m pro-family and pro-life.”

Pimentel yesterday said he cannot vote for the measure after seeing the contents of the House bill on divorce.

Binay on May 25 said she has always been against divorce ever since she ran for the Senate in 2013.

Angara, Revilla and Ejercito said they are still thinking about their positions. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Evelyn Macairan

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