2022 Philippine Elections

De Guzman and Lacson are consistent pro-divorce and civil union

Lian Buan
De Guzman and Lacson are consistent pro-divorce and civil union
Vice President Leni Robredo offers a compromise on divorce: Use the recent SC ruling to make annulment of marriage more accessible

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and labor leader Leody De Guzman stood by their progressive stances favoring divorce and civil unions, while Vice President Leni Robredo offered a compromise – a more accessible annulment process.

Both Lacson and De Guzman had said before that they were pro-divorce, and they repeated that in a show of hands segment during the CNN Philippines presidential debate on Sunday, February 27.

The only other presidential candidate who said he was pro-divorce during the debate was Faisal Mangondato. Those who said yes weren’t asked to expound.

Robredo, who reiterated her anti-divorce stance, offered a compromise – an easier process to declare a marriage null.

“Meron nang bagong Supreme Court decision na ito ay mababago na ‘yung mukha neto, magiging accessible na (There’s a new Supreme Court decision that would change the way it is done, it will be more accessible),” said Robredo.

The vice president was referring to an en banc ruling G.R. No. 196359 from May 2021, where the Supreme Court modified the interpretation of psychological incapacity as a ground to declare a marriage as having no legal force. Before, people complained that the process was so expensive, and it was difficult to get psychiatrists’ certifications to prove the partner suffers from psychological incapacity.

The ruling modified the rules in ways so that psychological incapacity was no longer treated as a medical concept, but a legal concept. It simply means that the judge can consider the totality of evidence, and will not rely solely on medical evaluations. The ruling also said psychiatrists’ testimonies were no longer mandatory.

Some saw the ruling as jurisprudence that can potentially lead to divorce.

Robredo, a human rights lawyer who represented victims of domestic abuses, said she will work on economic empowerment so people, particularly women, have the financial ability to leave abusive relationships.

“Para maprotektahan sila, kailangan tulungan natin ang mga kababaihan through economic empowerment. Ito ‘yung magbibigay sa kanila ng lakas para hindi itolerate ‘yung abuses na nasa-suffer nila,” said Robredo.

(To protect them, we need to help women through economic empowerment. This would give them the power not to tolerate the abuses they suffer.)

Civil Unions

Lacson and Robredo reiterated that they support civil unions, which to a sector of the LGBTQIA+ community is an agreeable common ground for same-sex marriage. De Guzman and his running mate Walden Bello favor same-sex marriage.

The difference between a civil union and same-sex marriage, apart from semantics, is that the latter indicates a religious process, to marry in Church.

A civil union is purely legal, and based on the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of association. Once two people are bound by a civil union, they can protect joint properties and other joint rights that heterosexual couples enjoy, except those that were specifically delineated by gender in the Family Code.

“Kung ano ‘yung enjoyment natin at ano ang pribiliheyo sa buhay, bigyan din natin sila ng equal na opportunidad at pribiliheyo so ‘yun malinaw sa akin iyon. Civil Union, yes. Same-sex marriage, no,” said Lacson.

(Whatever enjoyment and privilege we have in life, we should give them equal opportunity to have those too. That is clear to me. Civil union, yes. Same-sex marriage, no.)

Robredo said “I am all for civil unions. Pareho po ako ng paniniwala ni Pope Francis na may karapatang lumigaya kahit sino (I share in the belief of Pope Francis that anyone has a right to be happy),” adding that she was a co-author of the anti-discrimination bill in the lower house.

Senator Manny Pacquiao, known for his conservative stance, reiterated his opposition to divorce and same-sex marriage, or civil union.

On civil unions, Pacquiao, a Christian, said: “Kasi mahirap naman yung pipilitin mo yung sarili para sang-ayunan mo sila na magkakasala ka naman sa Panginoon. Importante talaga na may Panginoon din tayo sa buhay dahil kung walang Panginoon wala tayong magagawa.”

Others did not have the opportunity to answer whether they favor civil unions.

But during the GMA News Jessica Soho presidential interviews, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he was not in favor of same-sex marriage.

The consistent debate-absentee Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr mentioned in past interviews that he was still undecided on both the issues of divorce and same-sex marriage. He was categorical for his support for abortion in severe cases, like rape and incest.


Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.