House approves divorce bill on 3rd reading

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives, voting 134-57-2, approved on 3rd and final reading a long-awaited measure that would legalize absolute divorce in the Philippines on Monday, March 19. 

House Bill 7303 had recently hurdled the committee level and 2nd reading before plenary.

The vote came hours after Palace Spokesperson and former House member Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte does not support proposals to introduce divorce or the dissolution of marriage in the country. 

Why this matters: This is the farthest the measure has reached in Congress. The measure, which promises a cheaper and faster option for couples who wish to end their marriage, is supported by House members across the political spectrum – the supermajority, minority, and the two opposition blocs.  

Proponents' primary goal is to give Filipinos, particularly women, a better alternative to annulment, which is costly and time-consuming in the Philippines. 

In the House, the measure is backed by no less than House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. 

No counterpart in the Senate: While the measure has support in the House, it has no counterpart in the Senate. In order for a law to be passed, both chambers should pass similar measures. 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III did not close the door to legalizing divorce, telling reporters: "Dissolution of marriage is a new concept hence, give us time to study it." 

Duterte's apparent rejection of the measure, as announced by Roque, could also deal a blow to the proposed law. –