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Church firm against divorce; Villar 8th senator opposed to it

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Macon Ramos-Araneta, Vito Barcelo & Maricel Cruz

Bill is ‘anti-family, anti-marriage, and anti-children’—CBCP

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines remained firm in opposing the proposed divorce law, warning lawmakers they are supporting a measure that is “anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-children.”

“It’s a betrayal of their constitutional mandate to uphold marriage and the family,” said CBCP Spokesperson Father Jerome Secillano.

The House of Representatives earlier approved on third and final reading the absolute divorce bill, but the measure is facing an uphill battle in the Senate.

STRAW VOTE. An informal survey by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada shows an 8-7 vote so far against the divorce bill being shepherded by Sen. Risa Hontiveros in the 24-member Senate. The House has passed the measure with a 130-109-20 vote.

On Wednesday, Senator Cynthia Villar added her voice to the members of the Upper Chamber opposed to the divorce bill.

“I was surprised the House passed the measure,” said Villar, wife of business tycoon and former Senate President Manny Villar.

“Everyone knows I have a very happy family life, so I’m not in favor of divorce,” she added.

Based on an informal poll conducted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada as well as the public pronouncements of senators, eight are against the divorce measure while seven were in favor.

Aside from Estrada, Senate President Francis Escudero, Senate Majority Leader Francis Tolentino, and Senators Joel Villanueva, Ronald dela Rosa, Aquilino Pimentel III and Juan Miguel Zubiri are against absolute divorce.

Those who were in favor Senators Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe, Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla, Imee Marcos, JV Ejercito and Pia Cayetano.

Secillano, who is also the head of the CBCP’s Committee on Public Affairs, said passing a divorce bill would weaken the commitment to marriage.

“And of course, you also just perpetuate the cycle of violence. You are not treating the person who is violent, you are just merely freeing the abused person from that violent situation. So that guy who may be abusive is not treated at all, he will be looking for another girl who is going to be his punching bag later on,” the priest said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, however, said Catholic marriages will be covered by the divorce law once it is passed by Congress, rejecting the position of the CBCP that the measure will only apply to civil unions.

“It’s completely baseless to assert that a ‘sacramental marriage’ or church wedding will not be covered by a future divorce law,” Lagman said.

“Church marriage is recognized as a civilly valid marriage under the Family Code and is regulated like civil marriages by the secular laws on marriage,” he added.

House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin on Wednesday said a compromised version for minimal annulment fee should be pushed if the Senate does not adopt the House version of the divorce bill.

A survey conducted by the OCTA Research Group released in December showed 51 percent of Filipinos were against the legalization of divorce.

At least 41 percent of the respondents were in favor while the rest were undecided.

Majority of Filipinos who supported the divorce law were from Mindanao, followed by Metro Manila.

Most of the respondents in favor of the law were aged 18 to 24, while most of the respondents aged 67 to 74 were not in favor.

Under the measure passed by the House, the following are grounds for divorce: legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines; annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines; separation of the spouses for at least five years at the time of the petition for absolute divorce is filed, and reconciliation is highly improbable; psychological incapacity as provided in Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines; and domestic or marital abuse to include acts under RA No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and and Their Children Act of 2004.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Uphill battle for divorce: CBCP maintains strong objection, Senate says ‘it’s not a priority’.”

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