Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

Should divorce and same-sex marriage be now allowed in the Philippines?

Gabriela party-list and other pro-divorce groups were set to reintroduce a divorce bill, while Akbayan party-list said it will wait until the 17th Congress to file a bill that will seek to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said her enthusiasm to push for the passage of House Bill 4408 on divorce, Filipino Style, came about as a result of a recent pronouncement of Pope Francis that it could be “morally necessary” for some couples to split up.

But retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, head of the National Tribunal Appeals of the Catholic Bishops Conference, clarified that what the pope meant was “legal separation” or “conjugal separation” — not divorce and not the right to marry again.

“Ang unang-unang biktima nito (divorce) ay mga bata (The first victims of divorce are children),” said Cruz. “Hirap na hirap na ako sa kapapayo sa mga bata na ang kanilang magulang ay nagkahiwalay o nag-aaway. Talagang hindi mo makukuha sa guidance and counseling; may galit na kinikimkim (I have been encountering hardship in advising children whose parents are separated or quarreling. We cannot teach these children through guidance and counseling; there is hatred in their heart).”

Ilagan said House Bill No. 4408 is different from the divorce laws in Las Vegas and foreign countries. Under HB 4408, divorce would be entertained only when a partner is subjected to 1.) domestic violence; 2. Is abandoned; 3. If there is sexual infidelity; and 4. If there is any sex perversion (abnormal sex).

Under the bill, a petition for divorce could be filed if the petitioner is separated from his/her partner for five years; if the petitioner is legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years; if there was an irreparable breakdown in the marriage; when one or both spouses were psychologically incapacitated to comply with marital obligations; and when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences.

Meanwhile, Congressman Gutierrez said he will file a bill that will seek to legalize same-sex or three-partner marriages.

Gutierrez said Congress must allow same-sex marriages, considering that Philippine society has grown more permissive of gays, lesbians and transgenders.

From our standpoint, we see a divorce law in the Philippines as a wrecking machine that would break many homes. We agree with Bishop Cruz that the children of divorced parents would suffer most from the separation. Studies show that incidence of juvenile delinquency and crime is high among children of broken homes.

The Catholic Church is expected to put up a vigorous opposition against the enactment of a divorce bill. It sees marriage as a sacred sacrament.

On same-sex marriages, we believe age-old Filipino values would be violated if a law allowing it is passed.   

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