MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senate bet Florin Hilbay said he would support a divorce bill in Congress that is “fault-based” – a version Filipinos may be ready for.
A fault-based divorce has qualifications such as domestic abuse.
“Kung laging may black eye ‘yung asawa, ‘yung mga anak laging kinakawawa, kung may rason talaga para maghiwalay, at naghiwalay na, hindi na magkasundo talaga, sira na ang relasyon, what’s the point in maintaining that legal fiction na kasal pa kayo, and preventing people from moving forward?” Hilbay said during a Rappler interview for the Leader I Want Series.
(If the spouse always has a black eye, and the children are being maltreated, if there’s really a reason to break up, and they are broken up, the relationship is broken, what’s the point of maintaining that legal fiction that you’re still married, and preventing people from moving forward?)
Hilbay once wrote an essay that got him grilled when he applied for the Supreme Court. In that essay, he argued for the deconstruction of marriage as an institution.
“Hindi naman puwedeng sabihin ng huwes na mahalin mo ang asawa mo ‘di ba (The judge cannot tell you to love your spouse, right)? The really personal and emotional aspect of the relationship actually cannot be controlled by the State,” he said, explaining the wisdom of his essay.
Despite that belief, Hilbay said the Philippines is not ready for a version of divorce that couples are entitled to just because they decided they don’t want to be together anymore.
“I think we need to package our progressive agenda in a way that’s reasonable and I think that’s a reasonable framing of the answer. But if people are asked, ‘Are you for divorce?’ Hinati mo agad sa gusto ko pwede kaming maghiwalay ‘di ba, ‘pag ayaw ko na sa ‘yo iiwan na kita, mahihirapan ka talaga na kumuha ng boto na kailangan mo,” Hilbay said.
(If you divide it right away between those who want a divorce, that when you no longer want to be in the marriage you can leave, you’ll really have a hard time getting the votes you need.)
A fault-based divorce, Hilbay said, is something that “Filipinos today are ready for.”
The current divorce bill in the Senate is more liberal than a fault-based divorce. In the bill, couples who have been legally separated for a number of years and who can no longer reconcile, can file for divorce. A person who has been abandoned for more than a year can also file for divorce.
Hilbay said it’s always a concern for his campaign that he does not alienate conservative voters.
During a senatorial forum held by CNN Philippines, Hilbay’s co-candidates in the Oposisyon Koalisyon slate were split on this issue. Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno favors divorce in “irreconcilable and abusive marriages,” while re-electionist Senator Bam Aquino and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano do not.
On the other side, former police chief Ronald dela Rosa and presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino also do not support divorce, but Senator JV Ejercito and former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Serge Osmena support divorce in irreconcilable and abusive marriages.
The Supreme Court has recently allowed to acknowledge divorce in marriages with a foreign national. – Rappler.com