Proposed divorce bill stirs controversy in Philippines

A controversial bill to legalize divorces in the Philippines has stirred controversy among congress members in the archipelago.

A Filipino Bride and Groom

The bill, House Bill No. 1799, also known as “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines” was filed by Congresswomen Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus on July 27.  Both congresswomen are members of the political party group Gabriela Women’s Party, which focuses on advancing women’s rights in the Philippines.

Currently, it is illegal to obtain a divorce in the Philippines.  An annulment or legal separation is recognized by the government, according to the Family Code, executive order number 209, signed July 26, 1987.

“Reality tells us that there are many failed, unhappy marriages across all Filipino classes,” wrote the two congresswomen in HB 1799’s explanatory note.

Map of Philippines

“In the Filipino culture, marriage is regarded as a sacred union, and the family founded on marriage is considered as a fount of love, protection and care. Philippine society generally frowns upon and discourages marital break-ups and so provides cultural and legal safeguards to preserve marital relations. Cultural prescriptions and religious norms keep many couples together despite the breakdown of the marriage,” the bill added.

Walden Bello, a member of the House of Representatives, publicly supports the proposed divorce bill.  “Let’s join the 20th century,” said Bello.

The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic, where marriage is highly revered and divorce is not an option.  Congressman Ben Evardone has publicly opposed the bill.  “We must continue to work for the preservation of the sanctity of marriage and the family,” said Evardone.   “Legalizing divorce might encourage or promote destruction of families.”

“With the predominance of the Catholic faith in the Philippines, the fear that divorce will erode personal values on marriage appears unfounded,” stated congresswomen Ilagan and De Jesus.

“This bill is being introduced based on indications that Philippine society is ready for the legalization of divorce.  The sanctity of marriage is not based on the number of marriages existing but on the quality of marital relationships,” they added.

According to the Family Code, a marriage may be annulled for various reasons, such as if a bride or groom was married without the consent of their parents and is under 21 years old.  Other factors include that the marriage was forced and not voluntary or if either spouse had an “incurable” sexual transmitted disease.

A legal separation may be granted if there was physical abuse in the relationship, drug or alcohol abuse, homosexuality or infidelity among other factors, according to the Family Code.

—Lemery Reyes/Newsdesk



Gabriela Women’s Party

Congresswoman Luzviminda Ilagan

Congresswoman Emerenciana De Jesus

Divorce bill filed at House; lawmakers divided

GMA News, August 11, 2010

Executive Order No. 209, Family Code of the Philippines

House Bill No. 1799 (full text)

29 thoughts on “Proposed divorce bill stirs controversy in Philippines

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  2. Hi,
    I would like to support the Divorce Bill. I have been a marriage without love and affection for too long but doesn’t want to file annulment due to its long process and i don’t have the necessary amount to spend for it.

    Please let’s voice it out! Legalize Divorce in the Philippines!

  3. Philippines has so many things to offer, one thing it can’t…divorce…and that makes it the top advantage of renouncing Filipino citizenship..the chances of getting what it cannot offer..

  4. I always believe in the sanctity of marriage but it is so frustrating to note that while Philippines is trying very hard to preserve marriage, said act has negative impact on the lives of the Filipinos. It preserves marriage but not life. Take a look at the laws of the Philippines, for example, the battered wife who killed the husband is acquitted. Is this how to preserve marriage? Allowing situation to cost life? It could have been prevented it they were separated the time it was manageable. What would happen to the children? Why oblige the couples to live together miserable when they can be happy separately?

  5. In my opinion, its high time for the Philippines to legalize Divorce. Our religion has nothing to do with it, it makes it more difficult to go to church while youre harboring grats to your husband and staying martyr. Ive been separated for more than 18 yrs now. If the divorce bill will be legalize, it will help women be more independent as some just think of their hubby as a sort of security that is why even if they treat them badly, they still continue the relationship.

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  7. I would like to support the Divorce Bill in the Philippines since in reality there are many couple who are not getting along well with each other.And we know that annulment is only for those who can afford.This is the time that Filipinos should be down to earth to accept the fact that not all marriages are made in heaven.You cannot force two persons to live together against their live in hell on earth life just for the sake of not breaking up marriage..I hope that this Divorce Bill should be approved by the Congress..Thank you..

  8. It’s about time. I am happily married but I see the benefit it will bring. I can only imagine the anguish of being in a state of marital limbo.

    Problem is, this will fail, again. Gabriela doesn’t have enough clout in the house to get this passed. This is a very unpopular. Even NoyNoy vetoed it already without studying it. Several Representatives already are on the record about not supporting it. They all sing the same chorus, “Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage”.

    I’ve already written to one of them about my support for it and how I think it will help people of broken marriages.

    Do your part. Contact your representative.

    These country’s governments respect the right of every human being to control their own
    destiny. They recognise that every individual has but one life to live and is solely responsible
    for their own happiness and if, for whatever reason, they determine that a partnership or
    marriage does not serve this purpose then they have the absolute right to dissolve that
    contract to seek true happiness.
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    Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone. Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon
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    This country’s government believes they have some God given right to dictate to their citizens
    how they should live their personal lives. Their oppressive and misguided Family Code is
    responsible for the suffering and feeling of utter hopelessness of millions of the people they
    are elected to serve and protect.
    I wonder how future generations will look upon the injustice dealt out by a state with these
    draconian and sanctimonious laws. How can they stand next to the truth and and not see it?

  10. If divorce is so bad, then don’t do it. Just don’t infringe on others’ whose personal beliefs have that. For example, if non-Christians will not get married in Church. Hence, divorce is just legal while for Christians, being legally divorced while married…well…

    Anyway, regarding divorce breaking up families, divorce shouldn’t be allowed for any and all reasons, you know. There should be some restrictions like the children must be all working/independent, not under parental support.

    But it’s better to avoid divorce altogether. Couples DO make it to their 50 years anniversary. So it should be a last last last last resort. What I have a problem with is not divorce but the people who would abuse it.

  11. This sounds reasonable:

    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.

  12. You cannot force two persons to live together against their well. – You can’t. But those two persons can. They should not have gotten married in the first place since marriage is inherently a lifetime commitment.

  13. I agree that no two people should be forced to live unhappily together, but another problem would be created by the new divorce bill. Housing those that will be this placed by moving out of the marital home and has anyone thought about the children if any who would be shuffled around?

  14. I certainly do not agree in Divorce bill. I got three MAJOR reasons to defend what I think is right.
    One reason is; as a child I have parents, we children, would not appreciate or accept that my parents are having their Divorce every child doesn’t want that to happen in their family. Divorce of our parent won’t help us and it might bring unexpected changes to us. Also, based on studies kids whose parents are divorced also displayed higher levels of anxiety and depression, compared with children whose parents did not divorce. This is my first reason, my perspective as a child.
    Second reason; as a catholic I believe that divorce is against the catholic belief. In my perspective it is against the catholic belief because when you walked in front of the altar you promised that you will stay together as long as you live. That is my perspective; while this is what I found in the internet “The official position then of the Catholic Church is that marriage is a sacrament that cannot be dissolved. A valid marriage has to endure until one spouse dies. The surviving spouse then is allowed to remarry. The Catholic Church does not grant divorce decrees nor does it recognize divorces issued by other religions or institutions”. That is also one reason why I disagree to divorce bill.
    Third reason is the saying “Ang pagpapakasal ay hindi parang kanin na kapag mainit ay iluluwa”. My interpretation of this statement is when you marry someone and there comes a tough time that you and your spouse fight, it doesn’t mean that their love and affection for each other vanished, it is just like an obstacle in your relationship you should not give up! This is my last MAJOR reason.
    As a teenager, I may not know everything in this world, but I know that I can defend what I think is right.

  15. I understand both sides, but have to agree that disallowing divorce will not make couples stay together and will not guarantee the “sanctity” of marriage. Too many people are abused and/or abandoned – is it preserving a marriage to stay tied without the benefits of support and respect? Is this a sacred relationship? Ridiculous. What about a person’s basic human right to be safe? No one tied by legal threads is free to pursue security, not to mention happiness. Particularly for the children, what chance then for normal family life? They are left fatherless, most often, with mothers who are alone and struggling. This is NOT God’s design for marriage. It is blasphemy to claim that people must remain chained, forced to endure evils not of their own making.

  16. Families break apart on a daily basis without divorce. Come on, the illegality of divorce doesn’t make anyone stay together. Why is it a question of Catholicism? The Catholics can make their own decisions not to divorce whether or not there is a law. Religion should not interfere with legal issues or the rights of people to decide their own paths. What’s more, people do not just get divorced because they have a fight. There are many destructive family situations that cause these splits. Besides, limitations can be set if the government feels that people will take advantage of the situation and act irresponsibly. What is a person to do if abandoned by a spouse for another lover? Beaten? Psychologically abused? Children get abused, too, by their abusive parents. Children suffer, too, in loveless marriages and abusive relationships, not just when parents separate. Man was not made to live alone. It was God’s design for people to find their mates. Mistakes are made. People are given free will by God Himself to decide whether to follow His rules or not. Who are men to restrict?

  17. divorce is a double edged sword. i do understand its positive and negative effects but i have to agree that it is about time to allow it in the philippines. my parents have a successful marriage but i have seen a lot of friends who come from unsuccessful ones. those instances have made me think that they would have been saved from the agony if only their parents were allowed to get a divorce instead of staying together and hurting each other (and their children) more and more everyday.
    there are also a lot of factors why people “fall out of love”. if there’s a collusion, why not give them the right to be divorced?
    the government can always set limits. as for the catholic church, would you allow people to stay together even if they are already cursing each other? would you allow them to continue committing sins for the rest of their miserable lives instead of just allowing them to be free of each other? and if you can grant a divorce if physical violence is proven, what difference does it make?

  18. I totally agree. Yes to divorce! I have two kids and the father of my kids abandoned us for 4 years now. It’s been a long time women couldn’t have their total rights. Why government forced women to be martyr? Yes, there’s annulment but only rich can afford it. how about those who can’t afford? just wait til death? That’s pathetic!

  19. I really don’t agree with the implementation of the divorce bill because what could be the significance of the so called MARRIAGE?

  20. over half the number of commentators here live in an unhappy and empty marriage. FYI,when a couple decided to be together and have children, they have all the responsibilities to make sure that their children are brought up in an environment that is conducive for them to leave in…
    abused? we have Act No. 9262,7877,etc to take care of that.
    …my point here is, implementation of divorce bill will increase the no. of early marriage, leading to higher rate of birth, inc. in Phil. population, and probably inc demand of psychologist/psychiatrist work. ^^
    Think of chain connection.

  21. The Philippines should take a long hard look at the implications of Divorce. The culture of copying the United-yes, even divorce is going to increase the population, increase poverty, and make a mockery of the already bad treatment of women.
    Men will marry, have children, divorce to run away from responsibility and will re-marry and have children. It will go on and on as the country cannot handle the enormous increase in population(like they can now). The Ruling Elite does not know what they are doing and doesn’t realize Divorce applies to all, rich and poor alike.
    The country should consider themselves lucky they do not have stupid laws that destroy societies. If abuse happens or love is gone, people normally leaves and co-habit and leave marriage to those who can make it work.
    Don’t make a mistake and if you do, refrain from making the same mistake.

  22. Anong sinabi noong nakatataas na pari doon sa kalilipas lang na royal wedding , it went like this “that marriage is more than living with the one you love forever, but also, it is a long and continuous life knowing each other.” Divorce is only a scape goat for one’s pride and inability to understand and cope up with seeming problems in relationships, unless, there is no purity, love and devotion at all. To engage in divorce is an irresponsible move. That is why, before a couple enters and decides to wed, there ought to be purity of heart, devotion, honesty and all the wonderful virtues that guide a meaningful relationship.

  23. if divorce will be allowed to save life or to give once life a chance for a happier living,think not just twice…it will just allow people to create another problem.. they will just abuse it…will just do marriage more like an easy game!!!

  24. i don’t agrree with the divorce bill because it is not the solution!theres other way like
    ;you will separate
    :have annulment if you really cannot save your marriage
    bakit mo pa kailangan ng divorce bill?

  25. God said to Moses, “Give them a writing of divorcement, because of the hardness of their hearts”. Divorce is good in certain circumstances. #1 is adultry! I’m assuming that everyone knows what adultry is. Adultry is one of the ten commandments of almighty God! “Thou shaly not commit adultry”. If there is sexual infidelity within the said marriage, then that is a legitimate groung for divorce in Gods eye’s. He didn’t say that He liked divorce, but it’s necessary when the vows made are broken, and hearts are hardened. There is no “Sanctity” after the sexual infidelty line has been crossed! The innocence a marrige once had can never be regained. Things will never be as they once were after that. A writing of divorce is absolutely approved by God in the event of such.

  26. God said to Moses, “Give them a writing of divorcement, because of the hardness of their hearts”. Divorce is good in certain circumstances. #1 is adultery! I’m assuming that everyone knows what adultery is. Adultery is one of the ten commandments of almighty God! “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. If there is sexual infidelity within the said marriage, then that is a legitimate ground for divorce in Gods eye’s. He didn’t say that He liked divorce, but it’s necessary when the vows made are broken, and hearts are hardened. There is no “Sanctity” after the sexual infidelity line has been crossed! The innocence a marriage once had can never be regained. Things will never be as they once were after that. A writing of divorce is absolutely approved by God in the event of such.

  27. Alam nyo ibukas nyo lang an mata nyo. Sa mga ayaw ng divorse.Anong gagawin nyo sa mag asawang di na mag kasundo? and iba hiwalay na…ang may mga iba ng partners. tatawagin nyong makasalanan? di naman sila makapa-annul para lang yun sa mayaman yun P100t to P300t? goshh… we are a land of hypocrite lahat ng batas pang mayaman.pag mahirap ka bawal kang ituwid ang pagkakamali.dadaanin ka sa parables katulad ng pa pinagsama dapat di maghiwalay dahil nangako kuno. e alam ba nilang darating ang araw na di sila magkakasundo? unless lahat tayo manghuhula alam natin ang mangyayari. hayz gising sa mga kongreso na walang pakialam sa mahihirap.give them equal right to have freedom to choose pagnagkaproblema ang marriage.wag nyong isipin yan anyway pag kayo nag-kaproblem kayang kaya nyong ikutin ang batas at bayaran ang proceeding thru costly annulment.e pano na naman ang mahirap??? pag nagka-problem magtiis??? di kasalanan ang maging mahirap treat them fair and equal…APPROVE DIVORSE this is the poor pinoys ANNULMENT. P-Noy pag-isipang mabuti.ganon din naman pag di nyo approve madami pa ding nahihiwaly ngayon.Do survey.e di give them the right to correct their wrong.katulad ng tuwid na daan.