Among the alarming news these days is the item about the Divorce Bill that is once more being revived for deliberation, revision and approval of Congress. This bill, which is almost similar to the previous bill that was disapproved, is supposedly aimed at providing the spouses a better and more convenient alternative on how to get out of an unbearable marriage.
Apparently, Congress is really bent on destroying our country if they pass this divorce bill. Our Constitution itself expressly provides that “marriage as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family” and the family on the other hand is the “foundation of the Nation” (Article XV Sections 1 and 2). Hence the Constitution also mandates the State to protect and strengthen both marriage and the family (Article XV Section 2 and Article II Section 12). But with this divorce bill, which will dissolve a valid marriage bond, Congress is actually eroding marriage, the most basic foundation on which the family and the nation are deeply rooted.
It must also be pointed out in this connection that our Family Code already has adequate provisions on how to get out of unbearable marriages which do not undermine such union as an “inviolable institution.” These are the provisions on the declaration of the nullity of marriage which only need improvement and revision to make it easier to obtain and more accessible to spouses. And this cannot be done by introducing the bill on absolute divorce because there is a great difference between nullity of marriage and absolute divorce.
Indeed, the proposed bill on divorce is not necessary anymore. Its main purpose of supposedly providing an aggrieved spouse with a better alternative to get out of an unbearable relationship is already available in our Family Code. It can even be said that we already recognize divorce in this country except that it is not absolute but only relative divorce or what is technically known as “legal separation.” Here the spouses also end their relationship based on grounds which are also considered as unbearable, more specifically the following: (1) repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct by one spouse on the other spouse or their common children; (2) physical violence or moral pressure to compel a spouse to change religious or political affiliations; (3) attempt to corrupt or induce spouse or children to prostitution; (4) imprisonment of a spouse for more than six years; (5) concealment of drug addiction and habitual alcoholism by a spouse; (6) concealment of lesbianism or homosexuality; (7) contracting of a subsequent bigamous marriage; (8) subsequent infidelity or perversion; (9) attempt against the life of a spouse; and (10) abandonment without a just cause (Article 55 FC).
The divorce bill now being proposed is known as absolute divorce which primarily provides for the dissolution of a validly existing marriage contracted in the Philippines pursuant to our laws. Undeniably, as pointed out above this is unconstitutional. The only absolute divorce recognized here is the marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner wherein the said foreigner is allowed to marry again. In such a case, the Filipino citizen can also re-marry here as provided in Article 26 of the Family Code that became effective on August 3, 1988, which provides that, “where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated, and a divorce is thereafter obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him/her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have the capacity to remarry under Philippine laws.”
The divorce bill is therefore really not necessary anymore. There are already existing laws providing for adequate alternatives to unbearable marriages. In fact said bill will only favor or reward the guilty spouse like the philandering or violent husband as it will enable him to repeatedly get out of marital relationships by battering his wife or committing acts constituting grounds for divorce and then remarrying again and continuing to commit same acts in subsequent marriages.
The divorce bill is also anti-family and anti-children. The children will be the biggest victims of any divorce. They will suffer more than any of their parents. The divorce and separation of the parents will inflict lingering emotional, psychological, mental and detrimental impact on the children which they will carry into their adult and married lives, considering that they will grow up with parents whose marriage has been broken and destroyed.
The worst part is that the children themselves, during their respective marriages, may opt to divorce, as an easy way out, like their parents, due to any marital crisis. Thus, the virus of divorce could be passed on by the parents to their children. And the children, in turn, to their own children, and so on, thereby destroying our families, and the entire society.
Absolute divorce concerns marriages which have no vice or defect at the time of their celebration but are nevertheless dissolved for causes arising after their celebration. What is allowed in our country is the declaration of nullity of marriages which, under our laws, do not exist or do not have any binding effect at all and are therefore void from the beginning because one of the parties is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations (Article 36, Family Code).
Filipinos are indeed known worldwide to be faithful and true to their commitments especially to their marriage vows. So the renewed proposal to enact a divorce bill will definitely destroy this reputation. If divorce is legalized here, couples who are striving to preserve their union will be given an easy way out in breaking their commitment to each other, thus opening the floodgates to more broken marriages like what is besetting and plaguing other countries now. When divorce is legalized here, love will really become mere feelings and emotions, and no longer a decision to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity.
Congress should not therefore waste their time and the people’s money they are using on this useless and harmful bill.
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