Divorce in the Philippines?

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Believe it or not! The Philippines is now the only country without Divorce that has not legalized divorce. There is Vatican but it is not really a country.

Gabriela refiled a controversial bill to legalize divorce in the country. Known as House Bill No. 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines), it lists down five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce:

1. 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;

2. 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;

3. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;

4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;

5. Any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

My stand on divorce

I am for divorce. Let me elaborate.

I wrote about annulment in the Philippines four years ago. The comments from readers exposed me to the sad reality of abusive spouses. I understood the reasons of failed marriages of close friends and relatives but it was only in my blog and through emails, that I understood the abusive relationships in some marriages. My heart reaches out to women crying out for help, one of which told me:

Being trapped for 18 years (1992-present) as single parent but status married, I hate our laws, as a woman, as a wife, having been abused. I was a battered wife for four years until i decided to run away for my life. My home is not safe anymore, my basic right to life was violated for four years (1988-1992) by someone supposed to protect me. Annulment law is a milking cow for lawyers, a law only for the elite, a privilege to those who can afford, a law for sale, another human rights violation. For those battered women who cant afford, the law shouts for you to wait for death, no escape, we are doomed.
Being battered and unprotected is one thing I hate being born Filipina. I was already scammed and I cannot even appeal cause 15 days has lapsed. Money cannot be made in 15 days for a single parent with two children whose education is priority. Decision notice did not even warn me I have to beat 15 days.

It is for this reason that the bill was filed, “for women in abusive marital relationships, the need for a divorce law is real. It is high time that we give Filipino couples, especially the women, this option,” said Gabriela Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus in the bill’s explanatory note.

An abusive relationship is one reason why I support the divorce bill.

The abuse can be verbal, physical or psychological. Imagine there were a total of 6,679 cases involving violence against women recorded in 2007 in the Philippines? Official figures in 2009 showed that 19 women were victims of marital violence everyday. According to the Philippine National Police, wife battery ranked highest at 6,783 or 72% of all forms of violence and abuse against women. These are only for reported cases . What more with those who are “ashamed to report”. Domestic violence is not limited to one social class. Many of the unreported cases belong to women belonging in the upper class of society.

Do you think the spouse who inflict these abuse ever change? Most never do and the only way for abusive spouses to change is to undergo therapy.

A divorced mother from the USA told me that “the culture and values of a society have to change. There has to be equal respect and rights given to men and women. This has to be more important than “protecting the sanctity of marriage”. As fas as I am concerned, if a partner (man OR woman) abuses the other, THE SANCTITY OF THEIR MARRIAGE HAVE ALREADY BEEN VIOLATED.”

Divorce Law is a start

If the divorce bill is passed, well and good but it does not stop there.

Instituting divorce law is a start. Changes need to start within the family system and our culture.

1. As parents, we teach our children not by words but with our actions. Abusive spouses will pass on their habits to their children when they witness physical, sexual, economic, verbal or psychological violence. As parents, our children have to know that Violence against women in any form is a crime.

2. Women have to change – they have to be brave enough to leave their husbands and make it in on their own, believe in their own strengths and ability to live and support themselves and their children.

3. Men have to change. If a man feels entitled to treat his wife and children as property or human beings who should be under his control, then he needs to be thrown in jail if he acts accordingly.

4. Most importantly, we all have to change, women trapped in these relationships are isolated – some physically, financially, socially, others just emotionally (that is why there are accomplished career women who are in these relationships).

*number 2-4 was shared to me by a divorced Filipino in the USA

Marriage will not be taken lightly if there is a divorce law. The law is there to help spouses trapped in abusive relationships and when the marriage is beyond repair. What happens if your child witness the abusive spouse hitting their parent? The child will believe it is alright to be stuck in a marriage where abuse is alright. The child in turn, will carry this on in their future relationships.

I believe my friend when she said that “the most important persons in this situation are the children. In any decision you make, always choose the one that is best for them.”

Voice out your opinions on the Divorce Bill.

If you feel that the divorce bill is important to you, show your support for it. If you are against it, then voice your opinion as well. I have included the copy of the House Bill No, 1799 at the bottom of this entry so you can educate yourself about the contents and merits of the bill. Just like my fellow mom blogger (Dine Racoma), she enjoins us to “think about the benefits and consequences carefully. Think about how you, someone you know, or even how your own children will be affected by the bill if it becomes law.”

Here are what others thought of the Divorce bill.

After reading the bill, please share your thoughts.

House Bill No. 1799 -An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines

Photo: from localwin.com and “I can has divorce?” by Nick Schweitzer, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Sunny

    How diiferent will divorce be from annullment, procedure- and cost-wise?

  • Thanks, mom blogger! I also advocated the passing of this bill. This will empower women and will actually open more options for them
    .-= adaengkantada´s last blog ..Pass the Divorce Bill! =-.

  • Concerned Student

    I do agree with you up to a certain extent, but I have some things to clarify.

    Marriage is described as a bonding of two souls into one by God. It is the Lord himself who puts you together, who “binds” you from two souls into just one. If you think about it, it is the Lord who puts both man and woman together, for He made man and woman, and we know that God is a god of all things, he is the one who somehow moves the chess pieces for it to go well. He is the mediator. It is he who puts people together, and when seen fit, bond them together.

    Divorce is just like saying, I do not respect God and my very own decision, for if you think about it once more, it is our free will to actually get someone as our husband and wife, and hey, during your wedding ceremony, you say to your beloved:””I, _______, take you, ________, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”, for richer and poorer, sickness and health, TILL DEATH DO US PART. You made a vow and an action, and you will have to take the consequences of such action.

    Isn’t Divorce just becoming more like an escape route out of something? I mean, before long, won’t people think: “I’m not sure about my marriage, I don’t even know the guy that well, I don’t think I love him that much, but, oh well, there’s always going to be divorce there to catch me if I fall.” Isn’t it promoting infidelity to one another?

    For those abused, you always have the court to go to. You can always seek help from its threshold, but that’s not always the only way. Thinking about it once more, God tells us that before we report anyone to authorities, we have to do brotherly correction, and what better is divorce doing than eliminating that step and just proceed to social correction? Let’s face it, we’re human, we commit mistakes, but we have to understand that we need to forgive, and ultimately, forget, for strong bonded relationships stick when one gives way to the other, right?

    Besides that, most couples that are separated are coping very well with just living away from each other. Sometimes, it’s actually better this way that your wedded, for the guy, whoever he is, will not be able to victimize any other woman already because he has a record of marriage. Compare that scenario if you can just get divorced? Wouldn’t it be that the guy would just marry someone again, and do the same thing? So, your staying apart from each other serves as a protective barrier, not only for yourself, but for others.

    I just hope that we continue not having the divorce law. We are the world’s most hospitable, loving and family-oriented country, and why do we have to change to accommodate more evil in our society?

    We should stand proud, and continue the path we are trekking on, for we are on the right path.

    • A Concerned College Graduate

      @Concerned Student: I understand the ideal and value you’ve been emphasizing in your message. However, that is impossible to pursue under certain circumstances (e.g., when the relationship constitutes obsession, infidelity, manipulation, neglect and/or violence). Abuse isn’t the foundation of marriage and family. If one’s marital relationship is already jeopardizing the wellbeing of one and merely paving the way for more atrocities to be committed, it is only justified that one should leave and have one’s marital bond terminated.

      Divorce per se doesn’t promote infidelity, but rather one of the possible responses to it. Defying understood boundaries of a relationship is the effect of underlying issues (ex. lack of space for truthfulness and security in the relationship; dissatisfaction due to failed expectations; changes in the attitudes and behaviors of an individual through the course of marital life; distorted socializing patterns and community standards).

      A record of marriage won’t suffice in keeping an abusive or disloyal partner from entering another intimate relationship as well as “doing the same thing.” Moreover, legal separation permits an abusive spouse (male or female) to continuously profit from their partner’s health insurance and/or social security benefits. On another hand, an individual lacking outside social support and ample financial resources may still be controlled by the spouse using their said health insurance and social security coverages.

      Respecting God also means respecting life. Taking action to save life has precedence over upholding marital relationship. Luke 4:18 of the Christian Bible mandates “the release of the oppressed.” Piyquaḥ Nefesh (saving or preserving human life) overrides any other value or principle (including Shelom bayit or domestic harmony (also matrimonial reconciliation), which is often utilized to prevent Jewish women from leaving their husbands) under the Halakha (Jewish law). Under the Sharia (Islamic law), our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters have Talāq ,which allows Muslim men to end their nikkah (marriage contract); and Khula, which confers Muslim women the right to seek divorce from her husband. Different beliefs, but they all point us into seeing the Divine in each of us and according individuals liberty from abusive marital relations.

    • “Marriage is described as a bonding of two souls into one by God.” – Does not apply to civil marriages, nor to marriages bound by non-Catholic religions. As for other Christian marriages, note that other Christian churches allow divorce among their followers. Is it for the Catholic Church to dictate upon these other religions, or even on those who have chosen not to have any religion at all, how their union is to be defined or described?

      Read the Bill. Divorce is not an easy way out. There is a process that must be followed, conditions that must be met, before a divorce can be availed of.

      If the Catholic Church is worried that its faithful may resort to divorce, the solution is easy: Let the Church forbid the remarriage in a Catholic ceremony of any Catholic who is previously divorced. It is within their prerogative to do so.

  • audie

    I agree w/ the divorce bill..It will be a good help for everyone who had a worse marriage just like mine..I separated with him after 10 yrs of dilema,thinking that our relationship may somehow,someway work before but the fact it will not really work even i tried very hard with no cooperation from him, because after 10 yrs being separated to him i finally find out that i am only a 2nd wife after getting a CENOMAR from NSO.i never thought about getting this document b4 bec.we are both working inside a camp(meaning there is a background investigation for both parties)..I was deceived for 20 yrs and after that ako pa ang gagastos ng malaki just to clear my name ..and what about yun kahihiyan ng tulad ko na nagwowork? It’s so unfair for me and the others who are in the same shoes di po ba?

  • Bea

    Being pro-woman, I am for divorce. Our annulment here is like a huge lie. People who’ve had children legitimately and then get annulled are are not really annulled. Conceptually, they’re actually divorced, even if the law says that we have no divorce. Conceptually, annulment means that marriage was never valid and that any kid you bear in that fake marriage are illegitimate. Even if our law now says that kids born in an annulled marriage are legitimate, we’re just kidding ourselves. Changing the law does not change what the meaning of annulment is.

    Most annulled marriages had been real and very binding. We’re just bending principles and kidding ourselves so why not just make it real and make divorce legal instead?

    Now for the issue of women. I believe that those who are not for divorce are anti-women (without meaning to) and they are that way because they have probably been luckier. They can speak in the comforts of their home, without fear of being beaten and abused. I studied Women’s Development for a time and have known many who have undergone abuse and have gathered data of women in the rural areas who have died because of abuse (also related to our lack of a good RH Bill). It’s so easy for middle class religious people to say they’re anti-divorce when they have not experienced the same misery. Those who do experience it have the money and can have the marriage annulled so easily (even when the marriage was actually valid).

    The lack of the law does not affect rich people. They have the money, they can always do something about it. The lack of law affects our lower class citizens. They are the ones without the means to do something about it. But how would most law makers understand? Most of them have fattened their purses too much that they wouldn’t know squat about how lower class citizens live.
    .-= Bea´s last blog ..What is your MAJOR MAJOR answer Best comment wins a Larry Alcala Solo Shirt! =-.

  • wine

    im married for more than 30 yrs.,no more underage children, battered and tortured mentally, have the evidences he forged my signature in his loans and other papers for use to file an annulment but i cant do it due to high cost (attys. fees and others) and i dont have resources to sustain. my problem is he still comes home to my house (i spent my money for the house not his) bcoz hes interested in my properties (though this maybe a conjugal prop). we dont talk and share beds anymore for a long time already. can u pls advise whats best for me to do? tnx a lot for ur help

  • thanks for this post!I advocated the passing of this bill. This will empower women and will actually open more options for them.

  • sheena tan

    Divorce. One way to get peace out of a failed marriage… and this is not only for women, and also for men that have bad experiences with their wives. Wives who uses their child to get money, or wives that turned left. before you were married, in front of the altar, you both promised to love each other, for sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. But promises are made to be broken. most of the time, The HUSBAND is the problem, but there are times that the WIFE made the first turn. So Divorce is the answer for both men and women who feel used or abused in their marriage. Today Divorce is one way to lessen violence. 🙂 Yes to divorce!

  • sheena tan

    Yes! Before you were finally announced husband and wife, in front of the altar, you both promised to love each other, for sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. But its easier said than done. always! Now look, DIVORCE is not only in favor of women, it is not focused only on women, its for everyone who is living an unhealthy married life. Most of the time the husbands are the ones who makes the first bad move that can stain the marriage forever. But …. it is true that what a man can do, a woman can too. what if that wife is the first one who made the left turn? of course you try to repair the relationship…. But what if it happens, not once, nor twice, but more than the usual. Of course Men also don’t want to be tied into a chair blind folded … everyone wants to get out of a bad relationship… a bad marriage, because staying and being a martyr would be like killing yourself slowly, but painfully. So if the Philippine government wants to lessen violence… having DIVORCE legalized would be a good idea. 🙂

  • I am for Divorce. For those against, I say the following:

    Yea lets keep this already outdated country in the the 18th century. While the church has still voice to control the Philippines, this country will still be a shadow on the rest of the world. But who cares right? There is lechon after every wedding. The whole world is in sin but the Philippines. Everybody is wrong just we are right and this might be the only chance of many filipinas to say that they have money to afford a wedding, even if they don’t.
    Don’t take me wrong. I love this country. But with the Human Rights violations that I see here, including no separated cells for males and females, no rights for a Official ID, no rights for medical assistance when you don’t have money (unless you ask that big favor for your preferred congressman, that one who gave you a gift for you to vote him on the last election, remember?) stay married in a failed marriage is just as sad for an already over self-explored country. But remember… there’s free food after it…

  • Pingback: ABS CBN Harapan on Divorce Bill | Sheenah Tan()

  • Anonymous

    My question is will the cost for divorce be as outrageous as annulment? I am also in an abusive marriage and i have been trying for years to end all ties with my husband. But to no avail he wont even leave our house. I am currently living in my Mom’s house with our son and my sisters and yet he still has the guts to come home to us when he is no longer welcome. He is a policeman and I have been threatened numerous times. Seriously I have no idea what to do anymore and I really need help. I support divorce wholeheartedly and hope in the near future it will be considered if not for the sake of us females but for our children.