Divorce in the Philippines
Divorce in the Philippines
Everyday, we hear stories from the news about women being abused by their husbands up to the point of causing death to the abused. It is also never new to hear a spouse having extramarital affairs and those other stories of infidelity and violence. We may sometimes first-handedly witness it in our own community, neighbors and friends, and even in our own homes. Come to think of it, why stay on this kind of unhappy relationships?
According to the Philippine Commission on Women website, “physical injuries and/or wife battering remains to be the most prevalent case across the twelve-year period, from 1997–2009, accounting nearly half (45.5 percent) of all reported violence against women (VAW) cases nationwide.”
Yes, we already have annulment and legal separation in the Philippines but these systems are nothing but flawed—allowing only separation for such grounds that makes marriage void, in the first place. Meaning, this only considers those cases of psychological incapacity, impotence, marriages between collateral blood relatives, incestuous marriages, mistaken identity, and minority. However, spousal abuse and infidelity are not grounds for the annulment of marriage. This does not answer the rampantly occurring cases of violence and infidelity that leaves women rather helpless.
Philippines is among the last two countries in the world that do not yet legalize divorce. Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza first filed a divorce bill in Congress in 2005. The bill, known as House Bill 1799, or An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines, was re-filed in August 2010 by Gabriela Women’s party-list. It should be no wonder now why it is the women who are fighting for the passage of this bill because they are the object of infidelity and violence.
Lawmakers have identified several grounds for divorce: when the married couple has been separated for five years de facto and reconciliation is highly improbable; the couple has been separated for two years before filing for divorce; when the grounds for legal separation (infidelity, psychological incapacity and irreconcilable differences) are present resulting to an irreparable marriage.
According to a Social Weather Station survey conducted in March 2011, “50 percent of adult Filipinos agree and 33 percent disagree with the statement: ‘Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again.’” In 2005, a similar survey was conducted which showed that 43 percent of adult Filipinos were in favor of divorce and 44 percent were not. From the statistics, we can conclude that Filipinos are starting to become open-minded with this issue and now accepts divorce as an option for failed marriages.
According to Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerciana De Jesus, representatives of Gabriela Women’s Party List, “The sanctity of marriage is not based on the number of marriages existing but on the quality of marital relationships; when a marriage is no longer viable, divorce should be an option.”
Indeed, why stay in a marital relationship where it no longer foster love between husbands and wives? It is now time to accept the rampantly occurring fact that some marriages work and some unfortunately don’t. In cases where a union is more harmful than beneficial, a divorce can be a benevolent and less hurtful way of severing ties.