House Speaker’s plans for ‘dissolution of marriage’ bill met with criticisms

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HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has yet to file a bill for dissolution of marriage but his planned proposal was already met with criticisms.

Earlier, Alvarez said one of his advocacies in the upcoming second regular session of the 17th Congress, which will open in July 24, would include the filing of bill for dissolution of marriage.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Alvarez explained that in the planned bill, “both parties can agree and jointly petition the court for the dissolution of the marriage.”

“Hindi ito divorce, dissolution of marriage ito. Halimbawa, ‘di tayo magkasundo, ‘di na tayo masaya sa isa’t isa (This is not a divorce but a dissolution of marriage. For example, if we are can no longer reconcile, if we’re no longer happy with each other), we can go to court and petition jointly for the dissolution of our marriage,” Alvarez explained.

Both them could make an agreement on various issues such as custody of children and division of properties, he said.

But if one of the spouses disagreed for a dissolution, Alvarez noted the other party could still file a petition before the court on the ground of “unhappiness.”

However, for some sectors within the predominantly Catholic Philippines, the House speaker’s proposal doesn’t sit well.

In a statement, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said that the House speaker’s planned bill “totally removes” the “genuine essence of marriage.”

“This destroys the sanctity, respect and value of the family. I don’t know of any other country in the world that has adopted this kind of law which makes it easy to dissolve a marriage upon agreement,” Atienza remarked.

He further claimed that such bill “destroys the sanctity, respect and value of the family.”

“I hope and pray that Speaker Alvarez doesn’t pursue this line of thinking. This would not strengthen marriage, this would destroy marriage.  For Catholics, this is a contract of union before man and before God under the Sacrament of Marriage.  I still hope that he was only joking when he said his ideas,”  Atienza added.

Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus also cried foul over the proposal for dissolution of marriage, pointing out that the term “unhappy” used in the bill is “very subjective.”

“’Pag tiningnan natin [ang] dissolution of marriage at ginamit ang salitang ‘unhappy,’ subjective, very subjective. Mahalaga para sa amin, kaya nga sabi namin educational sana ang approach para ipakita ano ba batayan bakit nawawasak. (The term ‘unhappy’ is very subjective. An educational approach is very important to show why a relationship breaks),” de Jesus told ABS-CBN.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Judicial Vicar of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also expressed dissent against the bill.

“Bakit magpapakasal kung ganun lang, ‘pag ‘di magkasundo, nag-aaway, let’s file for divorce (Why would you marry and file a divorce after a disagreement)? Just stick together, the next day, part ways,” Cruz said.

He then stressed that children are the first victims of failed marriages.

The Philippines is the only nation in the world that does not allow divorce (though Muslims can), as well as the Vatican City, an ecclesiastical sovereign city-state.  In these two countries, laws only allow annulment of marriages.  However, filing for annulment is a long and expensive process in the Philippines. (Dana Sioson/AJPress)



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