Will PH have a divorce law?

Sen Pia Cayetano won't file a divorce bill soon, telling Rappler 'I have to do one battle at a time'

'NOT RIGHT TIME.' Sen Pia Cayetano tells Rappler that while she is still in favor of divorce, she will wait for the right time to file a counterpart bill in the Senate.

MANILA, Philippines – After the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, will the Philippines become the last country in the world to allow divorce?

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers already filed bills for and against divorce, setting the stage for another heated debate. Yet no counterpart bill has been filed in the Senate so far.

Is Sen Pia Cayetano, the RH law’s principal sponsor, keen on filing one soon?

“It’s not my priority right now but I do not mean I’ve changed my position on divorce,” Cayetano said in an interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa on Wednesday, July 10.

The senator said in past interviews that she favors divorce, calling annulment terrible and inhumane. She went through the process after separating from her husband. Their marriage has been annulled.

She has said she faced situations where she saw that some marriages are harmful to women’s mental and physical health.

A predominantly Catholic country, the Philippines is the only country where divorce is still banned, along with Vatican City.

Cayetano said her stand remains the same but she is not filing a divorce bill anytime soon.

“Did the RH law trigger [my stand]? It did not. This has been my position for many, many years but I have to do one battle at a time. At the time I was defending RH, I was also working on the Philhealth law and that one was very technical.”

She added, “I need time to focus on many things. When the right time comes, I’ll work on it.”

Cayetano filed a motion for intervention asking the Supreme Court to junk petitions questioning the constitutionality of the RH law. She will argue in favor of the law when oral arguments resume on July 23. The law requires government hospitals to provide contraceptives and RH services, and mandates sex education in public schools.

READ: #RHlaw: We’re not doctors, justices say

The Catholic Church leadership is actively campaigning against the RH law, supporting petitioners who argued against it on Tuesday. Catholic bishops vowed that bills in favor of divorce and gay marriage will face the same fierce opposition.

Many senators anti-divorce

On Monday, Sen Francis Escudero expressed doubt that the divorce bill will be passed in the 16th Congress. He said in the 15th Congress, no divorce bill was also filed in the Senate.

Escudero reiterated his stand against divorce. 

“I am more in favor of making annulment more accessible and affordable. We don’t even need a law for that. Just ask the Public Attorney’s Office to assist in annulment cases and have the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) or DOH (Department of Health) provide free psychologists to give testimony and advice related to these cases.”

His marriage with wife Christine Elizabeth Flores was annulled, and he is now dating actress Heart Evangelista. 

Other senators share Escudero’s stand, including Sen Antonio Trillanes IV, Gregorio Honasan II, JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, Koko Pimentel, and Alan Peter Cayetano.

READ: Most Senate bets vs divorce

In the House of Representatives, women’s group Gabriela is again filing a bill in favor of divorce.

The group has said that divorce can protect women and children from violent and abusive marriages.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr has also said that he is in favor of divorce.

Yet there are also staunch critics of divorce. Marikina Rep Marcelino Teodoro again filed a bill that seeks to make divorce “unacceptable.” His bill only allows legal separation but does not let separated spouses remarry.

Under Teodoro’s bill, divorce obtained by a Filipino abroad is not valid in the Philippines.

“[Divorce] still undermines the value of marriage by encouraging couples to put an end to their relationship instead of allowing them to reconcile immediately or fix [their marriage] over time,” Teodoro said.

Do you think the Philippines should have a divorce law? Let us know in the comments section below. – Rappler.com 

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