Divorce bill to spark another heated debate — Speaker

Published by rudy Date posted on May 31, 2011

The House of Representatives is in for another con-tentious debate on the issue of the divorce bill before it takes on another long recess.

According to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, the divorce bill, like the controversial reproductive health bill, is going to trigger another fiery debate between its proponents and those towing the line of the Catholic Church even as he noted that

the RH bill could take the backburner given the priority that the House is going to give to those which are already on third and final reading.

“I did realize that we have a divorce bill and it is bound to be another one contentious bill,” he told a chance interview yesterday.

Belmonte, who has expressed his support for the bill, said a divorce law could work in favor of couples who cannot live or stay together.

The committee on revision of laws will hold a hearing on House Bill 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines), filed by Gabriela party-list Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, on Wednesday.

According to the party-list lawmakers, the law would be a remedy that couples can resort to in putting an end to domestic violence prevalent among many married Filipino couples.

“It is very difficult to let the people who cannot live together continue to live together. I think there are a lot of social problems involved here and I have taken account of them,” Belmonte stressed.

The House leader believes divorced couples can still “nurture” their children even when they are living separately.

He added divorce is similar to annulment which is allowed in the country.

Belmonte, however, conceded that the issue is going to trigger another division between the church and supporters of the bill in the lower chamber.

The bill proposed five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce: the petitioner has been separated de facto (in fact) from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage; when one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

After overwhelmingly Catholic Malta voted in favor of legalizing divorce, the Philippines is now the only country outside of Vatican city-state without a divorce law.

Aside from the divorce bill, the RH bill, will continue to be debated upon, Belmonte said.

“Actually while the RH bill will continue to be discussed, there are several bills that are almost there, like the bill on the GOCC (government-owned and -controlled corporation), AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act) bill and several others,” he said, adding the House is giving priority to bill which are on third reading.

“In the case of RH bill we will continue to discuss this over the next two weeks,” Belmonte said. –Gerry Baldo, Daily Tribune

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