divorce in the Philippines

Villanueva: Divorce bill approval at committee level doesn’t guarantee passage

Bonz Magsambol

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Villanueva: Divorce bill approval at committee level doesn’t guarantee passage

File photo of Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The senator says what he supports is making annulment accessible for the poor

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Thursday, September 21 doused cold water on divorce advocates who hailed the approval of the divorce bill at the committee level, saying this was just part of the process of deliberations on any proposed measure.

Ang pag-apruba ng divorce bill o kahit anong panukalang batas sa committee level ay parte po ng legislative process (The approval of the divorce bill or whatever proposed bill on committee level is just part of the legislative process),” Villanueva, who is against divorce, said in a statement.

Ngunit gusto lamang po nating iklaro na hindi po majority ng lahat ng miyembro ng Senado ang siyam na lagda. Marami po sa ating kasamahan ang pumirma sa committee report para lamang po mapag-usapan na ito sa plenaryo,” he said.

Villanueva and his father, CIBAC Representative Eddie Villanueva – founder of religious group Jesus is Lord (JIL) movement – are against the divorce bill as well as the sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) bill. In February Villanueva succeeded in reverting the SOGIE bill to the committee level at the Senate.

In 2019, Villanueva said of the move to push the divorce bil in the Senate: “Over my dead body.” On Thursday, he said, “Divorce is a big NO for me!”

The senator said what he supports is making annulment accessible for the poor.

“Bagamat hindi pa rin po nagbabago ang personal nating pananaw sa pagtutol sa panukalang ito, alam rin nating mayroong mga pagsasama, lalo na po kung nauuwi sa karahasan, ay dapat na pong wakasan,” he said.

(While my personal view on this proposed bill hasn’t changed, we know that there are marriages, especially those that resort to violence, need to end.)

He said that this is where annulment makes the nullifying of marriage a solution for all regardless of social class. The cost of annulment in the Philippines ranges from P150,000 to P300,000, depending on several factors, such as lawyer’s fees, court fees, and other professional fees.

“Mas nararapat pong padaliin natin ang prosesong kaakibat nito, at gawin itong mas accessible sa lahat, anuman ang estado sa buhay,” Villanueva said.

(We should speed up the annulment process, and make it accessible to all, regardless of their social status.)

For the first time since the restoration of a bicameral legislature after the EDSA People Power Revolution, a Senate committee on women, children, family relation, and gender equality on Tuesday, September 19, approved a consolidated measure on absolute divorce in the country.

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Divorce bill hurdles Senate committee level

Divorce bill hurdles Senate committee level

Senate Bill No. 2443 was the consolidated measure filed by senators Risa Hontiveros, Raffy Tulfo, Robin Padilla, Pia Cayetano, and Imee Marcos. If passed, it will provide “protections to the parties to the marriage and its common children, amending for this purpose executive order no 209, or the family code of the Philippines.”

Under the bill, absolute divorce was defined as “the legal termination of a marriage by a court in a legal proceeding, requiring a petition or complaint for divorce by one or both party/ies, which will have the effect of returning both parties to the status of single for all legal intents and purposes, including the right to contract a subsequent marriage.”

Opposition of the Catholic Church, including lawmakers like Villanueva, and other Christian groups have been one of the biggest hindrances to the passage of the divorce bill. This has left the Philippines the only country in the world, apart from Vatican City, without a divorce law.

In 2018, the House approved on third and final reading House Bill 7303 which seeks to introduce divorce and the dissolution of marriage in the Philippines. But this fizzled out as no counterpart measure was passed in the Senate. The bill languished in the Senate committee level due to the lack of time to hear the divorce bill. – Rappler.com

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  1. MC

    It is a sad commentary on the Christian community that they alone want to benefit from couples who wish to separate legally so they keep annulment to themselves. I guess they figure if they make it cheaper there will be more and they will make more money. They don’t care about the millions of couples now living apart (and in sin according to the church) who can’t proceed to have a new normal life or marry a more suitable partner. The rich, celebrities and politicians all seem able to have multiple marriages.

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.