The Filipina’s Choice Concerning Her Marriage

Marriage is many things – a special contract, an agreement between a man and a woman, an issue of public interest, but most of all – a permanent union. It was meant to last in perpetuity, no matter what the cost. But what happens when this leads to abusive marriages, marital violence, abandoned children, and many others – which, statistically, leave more women as victims than perpetrators?
There seems to be a solution in House Bill 7303 and Senate Bill 356 both entitled, “An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce in the Philippines” which were submitted to the Congress and the Senate, respectively. These bills introduced innovative modes of approaching divorce and more diverse grounds to avail of such process.
What are the policies of the divorce bill?
  • Section 2 or its declaration of policy, says that while the Philippines “continues to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and as the foundation of the family,” divorce would give a chance for couples to terminate “a continuing dysfunction of a long broken marriage.” [1]
  • Section 3 of the Guiding Principles of the bill highlights that “gender equality, the protection of women from abuse and violence, and the best interests of children are the fundamental guiding principles of this legislation, and shall be read alongside the responsibility of the State to protect and strengthen the family as an autonomous social institution.” [2]

What are the grounds for divorce under the bill?

  • Aside from the existing grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code, and annulment under Article 45 of the same code, the divorce bill adds the following grounds:
    • Separation for at least 5 years at the time the petition is filed, with reconciliation “highly improbable,” except if the separation is due to the overseas employment of one or both spouses in different countries, or due to the employment of one of the spouses in another province or region distant from the conjugal home;
    • Psychological incapacity of other spouse as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, whether or not the incapacity was present at the time of marriage or later;
    • When one of the spouses undergoes gender reassignment surgery or transition from one sex to another;
    • Irreconcilable marital differences and conflicts resulting in the “total breakdown of the marriage beyond repair” despite the efforts of both spouses. [3]

Where is the bill now?

  • As of June 2019, the House of the 17th Congress (July 2016 to June 2019) has voted to pass the bill, through a vote 134-57-2.The same cannot be said with its counterpart Senate Bill due to most Senators expressing their staunch opposition to the bill, opting to pass a bill on “dissolution of marriage” instead. [4]
  • Nevertheless, as of February 05, 2020, the refiled version of the bill was approved by a House committee, moving that the bill to be put for plenary discussion. [5]

References:

  1. House Bill No. 7303
  2. Ibid.
  3. https://www.rappler.com/nation/196612-explainer-house-divorce-bill
  4. https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/10/21/senators-cool-to-divorce-bill-eye-dissolution-of-marriage/
  5. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/2/5/House-panel-OKs-divorce.html