SENATOR Risa Hontiveros on January 14 filed a measure legalizing “absolute divorce” in the country. Under Senate Bill 2134 or Divorce Act of 2018, legal separation may be filed by couples if the marriage is marred by “physical violence and grossly abusive conduct.”
While the State continues to recognize the sanctity of family life and endeavors to protect and strengthen the family, Hontiveros said it is also duty-bound to promote and protect the well-being of its citizens.
“It is a duty that should extend to circumstances whereby this well-being compromised by the inability to break free from irremediably broken marriages and start anew in healthier family and living arrangements,” she said.
She also cited studies and argued that it is not divorce that creates well-being issues for children but bearing witness to their parents’ troubled marriage.
“It is the duty of the State to save children for the pain, stress, and agony of witnessing regular marital clashes with no end in sight,” she added
Hontiveros is the chairman of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality. According to her, the number and proportion of Filipinos separated has been increasing over time.
“This demonstrates that the denial of legal remedies to those seeking to dissolve their union has largely been ineffective way of upholding the policy of the State to keep families together,” she said.
Divorce, under Senate Bill 2134, is defined as the legal termination of a marriage by a court in a legal proceeding. It requires a petition or complaint for divorce by one party, which will have the effect of returning both parties to the status of being single, including the right to remarry.
Psychological incapacity of either spouse, whether or not the incapacity was present at the time of the marriage or later; violation of the Violence Against Women and their Children Act; rape by the respondent-spouse against the petitioner-spouse before marriage; and irreconcilable differences or irreparable breakdown of marriage despite earnest efforts to reconcile are some of the grounds for divorce.
The bill states that a spouse shall be punished with imprisonment of five years and a fine of P200,000 if found by the court to have used force, fraud, or intimidation to compel the other spouse to file the petition for absolute divorce.
Any parent who will neglect to provide court-ordered child support or any spouse who will fail to pay court-ordered alimony shall be punished by prision mayor or fined P100,000 to not more than P300,000 on top of the unpaid child support and/or alimony as well.
Last year, several senators expressed their disapproval for the divorce bill. Some of them said they would rather have the annulment law amended.
President Rodrigo Duterte shared the sentiment, saying he would not support the divorce bill because his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, “is not happy with it.”
“My daughter is not happy with that. Really,” he earlier said.