divorce in the Philippines

4 in 10 Filipinos in favor of legalizing divorce – Octa

Michelle Abad

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4 in 10 Filipinos in favor of legalizing divorce – Octa
Majority or 51% are not in favor of passing a divorce law, a recent survey from Octa Research finds

MANILA, Philippines – Four in 10 Filipino adults are in favor of legalizing divorce in the Philippines, a new survey from Octa Research found.

In a survey conducted from September 30 to October 4 with 1,200 respondents, Octa found that 40% favored passing a law that would legalize divorce, while just over half or 51% of Filipinos were against it.

Around 9% were undecided.

The highest support for divorce was in Mindanao, at 48%, closely followed by Metro Manila, at 46%. Respondents in the Visayas had the lowest support at 33%.

Conversely, the Visayas had the strongest opposition against divorce at 59%. The lowest opposition was in Metro Manila, at 39%.

Chart, Plot, Page
DIVORCE OPINIONS. Just over half or 51% of Filipino adults are not in favor of passing a law to legalize divorce, a Q3 2023 survey from Octa Research found. Chart from Octa Research

Among socioeconomic classes, the highest approval was with Class D at 42%, while the highest disapproval was with Class ABC at 70%.

Northern Mindanao had the highest approval among regions, at 78%, while the lowest support was observed in Cagayan Valley, at 0%.

Among age groups, the highest support came from Filipinos aged 18 to 24 at 54%, while the lowest came from those aged 75 and above, at 8%.

Opinions were around the same for both men and women. Both male and female respondents yielded a 40% positive view for legalizing divorce, while half of the men were not in favor at 50%, compared to 52% of women.

Octa Research noted that the survey had a ±3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.

In 2018, pollster Social Weather Stations released a survey on attitudes towards divorce, where 53% of Filipinos agreed to legalize divorce in the country as of 2017.

While the recent Octa survey asked respondents in Filipino, “Are you in favor or not in favor of passing a measure legalizing divorce here in the Philippines?”, respondents in the 2017 survey were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: “Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2022 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey found that nearly 4 in 10 women aged 15 to 49 experienced controlling behavior by their husband or intimate partner, while nearly one in five women who have ever had a husband or intimate partner reported having experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their partner.

There are several bills pending in Congress to legalize divorce. The Family Code of the Philippines provides for grounds for the dissolution of marriage, but the remedies available are “painfully restrictive and inadequate,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in her explanatory note in her version of the bill.

Under the Family Code, annulment and the declaration of nullity only allow dissolution of marriages on grounds that existed at the time of, or prior to the celebration of the marriage, respectively, according to Hontiveros’ explanatory note. Meanwhile, legal separation recognizes separation on grounds that may have arisen after the marriage celebration, but still does not terminate the marital union. This means that legally separated couples cannot remarry.

The existing remedies are also costly and not accessible to many women in abusive relationships.

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Apart from the Vatican City, Catholic-majority Philippines remains to be the only state or country that does not have divorce, except for Muslim couples. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.