Sen. Robin Padilla has filed a measure seeking to legalize divorce in the country, saying it was meant to protect families and not destroy them.
The proposed Divorce Act of the Philippines is one of the first 10 bills that Padilla filed as a lawmaker. He topped the May 9 senatorial elections garnering over 26 million votes.
The senator said that while he favors marriages to last forever, the sad reality is that there are marriages that are doomed because of irreconcilable differences.
"Hindi po ito kailanman na sumasalungat sa pag-aasawa. Hindi ito isang bagay na kami ay kontra na magkaroon ng forever. Katunayan, ito pong panukalang ito ay nagbibigay ng proteksyon unang una sa mag-asawa - babae at lalaki at sa kanilang mga magiging anak," Padilla said in his Facebook live on Sunday.
"Itong panukalang ito ang nagbibigay proteksyon sa kasal na masakit man sabihin ay sira na... Wala tayong sinisirang pamilya. Pinroproteksyunan natin ang hindi magkasundo," he added.
Padilla pointed out that the Philippines is the only state in the world aside from Vatican City that has no law on divorce. He added that while the country allows annulment, the process is very costly.
Under Padilla's bill, a petition for divorce may be filed if:
- The husband or wife cannot fulfill his/her obligation in the marriage;
- Both parties in the marriage have irreconcilable differences;
- The marriage was annulled abroad;
- The husband or wife is presumed dead in accordance with Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code of the Philippines;
- A party is convicted of violating the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act";
- There is an attempt on the life of the child of the couple or of the petitioner;
- Having children outside the marriage except if both agree to have a child through IVF or similar prodedure; or if the woman bears a child after being raped;
- There are grounds for annulling the marriage based on the Family Code of the Philippines;
- Repeated abuses against the petitioner or his/her child;
- Both parties have been living separately for two years at the time the petition was filed; and
- The couple legally separated through a judicial decree under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines
The measure also provides for a "mandatory cooling-off period" after the petition has been filed. The petition may be dismissed if the two parties submit a verified joint motion, or if the court finds proof of collusion between the husband and wife.
Several measures in previous Congress have been filed to legalize divorce in the Philippines, the bastion of Catholicism in Asia, but they failed to reach the President's desk for signing.