Divorce law in the Philippines — still a 50-50 chance

Catholic faithful carry placards as they join a "march for life" at a park in Manila early on February 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018

Divorce law in the Philippines — still a 50-50 chance

MANILA: While the Philippines’ lower House of Congress has approved a proposed law allowing divorce in the mainly Catholic country, legislation still seems unlikely.
President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed disapproval of divorce, according to his spokesman Harry Roque. Several senators also reiterated their opposition to the measure on Tuesday and the Philippine public are likewise divided on the issue.
On Monday, the House of Representatives passed a third and final reading, House Bill 7303, also known as “An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines,” by a vote of 134-57 with two abstentions.
Roque, however, said Duterte did not support the proposed law as he had concerns for the children of divorced couples and about spouses who would be neglected after a divorce was granted.
Aside from not having the support of the president, the bill also has no counterpart in the Senate.
On Tuesday, several senators expressed their opposition to divorce, with some expressing their preference for a bill that would provide a more affordable annulment.
Among those who rejected the divorce bill were Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, and Francis Escudero.
Pacquiao, a born-again Christian preacher, said that divorce was not the answer to a failed marriage.”What God has joined together, let no one separate,” he said, adding that there was already an annulment process so there was no need to pass a divorce bill.
Escudero said he favored a bill that would make annulment more accessible to Filipinos, including the poor, over a divorce law.
Sen. Villanueva said in a post on Twitter: “Not too long ago in the same HOR (House of Representatives) no one would even dare to push for a divorce bill for obvious reasons. Filipinos value family more than anything, esp. moral values. Maybe times have changed but still praying and hoping for Christ’s ambassadors to step up and be heard.”
Sen. President Aquilino Pimentel III, however, said the idea of the “dissolution of marriage” should be studied first.
Meanwhile, citizens took to social media to share their thoughts on the divorce bill — some looking forward to its legislation, others expressing strong opposition.
A government official interviewed by Arab News said that she was for annulment, which she had already experienced.
The official, Mariz R., said that in an annulment process petitioners had to give a strong reason, such as psychological incapacity, which she said was difficult to prove. She expressed concern that if divorce was legalized there would be more broken marriages in the country.
John Paolo Bencito, 23, a copywriter for a public relations firm, said he was for the divorce law proposal because it gave an option to couples who were no longer happy in a relationship.
“The divorce bill does not necessarily mean that you’re turning back from your family,” he said. “Many Filipinos, for me, are backward about family, about divorce (because of our culture)” as it is seen as a deviation from cultural norms.
Tonyo Cruz, a columnist, said: “Don’t be afraid. The divorce bill won’t affect good/great/outstanding marriages. It would affect only the bad/awful/abusive marriages which a partner or both partners wish to end. If your marriage is not bad/awful/abusive, you’re safe under the divorce bill.”
The divorce bill passed by the lower house proposes that while the state continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the foundation of the family, it shall also give the opportunity to spouses in “irremediably failed marriages” to secure absolute divorce under limited grounds, as well as judicial procedures to end the dysfunction of a long-broken marriage.
It also seeks to save children from the pain, stress and agony caused by parents’ constant marital clashes; and grants the divorced spouses the right to marry again.
Under the bill, couples seeking divorce are ensured inexpensive and affordable court proceedings in securing an absolute divorce decree.
An absolute divorce decree shall be granted on grounds including legal separation and annulment of the marriage under the Family Code, de-facto separation for at least five years, legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years, psychological incapacity, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences and the joint petition of spouses.


Demonstrators besiege Pakistan newspaper second time in a week

Updated 13 min 57 sec ago

Demonstrators besiege Pakistan newspaper second time in a week

  • The protesters on Tuesday had also surrounded the newspaper’s building and criticized an earlier anti-newspaper protest
  • Abbas said police were alerted and he was seeking protection for the staff and building

ISLAMABAD: Dozens of protesters briefly besieged the office of a well-known independent newspaper in Islamabad, chanting slogans against the editor and staff and setting fire to copies of the paper before fleeing.
Friday’s protest was the second incident this week at the offices of the English-language Dawn newspaper. It comes a day after journalists and rights activists rallied in support of the paper and criticized an earlier anti-newspaper protest.
The protesters Tuesday had also besieged the newspaper’s building, demanding that editor Zaffar Abbas and publisher Hameed Haroon be hanged for reporting that the London Bridge attacker was of “Pakistani origin.”
Abbas went on Twitter to condemn what he says was yet another orchestrated demonstration against the paper. He said police were alerted and he was seeking protection for the staff and building.
It was unclear exactly who was behind the protests and authorities have made no arrests in connection with the increasing threats to the newspaper. Dawn has a history of bitter relations with the country’s powerful military.