June 23, 2018, 12:18 am
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‘Divorce bill easier to enact than RH bill’

A LEADER of the opposition bloc at the House of Representatives has united with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in pushing for the bill which seeks to institute divorce in the country as an option for couples in failed marriages.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (LP, Albay) said the consolidated measure will be sponsored in the plenary for debates before March 8, the International Day for Women.

“I assure you that this bill is easier to enact than the reproductive health bill,” Lagman told reporters, referring to the controversial RH bill which finally became a law after decades of congressional deliberations.

Lagman is the head of a technical working group under the committee on population and family relations chaired by Rep. Sol Aragones (PDP-Laban, Laguna) which was tasked to consolidate four divorce measures.

The bills include House Bill 6027 authored by Alvarez along with Deputy Speakers Pia Cayetano and Gwendolyn Garcia and Lagman.

HB 6027 provides that a marriage may be dissolved based on irreconcilable differences or severe and chronic unhappiness of the spouses which caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

Lagman said the version that the TWG is crafting makes a petition for divorce a lot cheaper and affordable compared to seeking annulment of marriage provided under the Family Code.

“The aggrieved wife will be exempt from court fees.  The court can appoint a counsel to represent the petitioner who can come from the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) or other legal aid groups,” he said.

The opposition congressman said the bill will also contain a provision for summary proceedings of divorce cases filed before a court to allow the aggrieved spouse immediate freedom from a violent marriage.

Aside from domestic violence, psychological incapacity, irreconcilable differences, violence and even transgender surgery are among the grounds that may be cited should a married individual seek separation from the legal spouse and remarry.

Rep. Gary Alejano (PL, Magdalo), who was seated beside Lagman during the press conference yesterday, vowed to opposed the measure.

Alejano’s wife Minnie and son Gary Jr. were present when he said divorce will destroy the sanctity of marriage and weaken the family as an institution.

Lagman’s House Bill 116 provides that the grounds for a judicial decree of absolute divorce are the same grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines and grounds for annulment of marriage under Article 45 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, HB 1062, authored by Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (NP, Surigao del Norte), seeks to amend Chapter 3 of Executive Order 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines by prescribing that a marriage may also be annulled if the parties have been separated for at least five years.

House Bill 2380, authored by Gabriela party-list Reps. Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas, seeks to introduce divorce as another option for couples in failed and irreparable marriages.

The bill proposes five grounds for divorce: The petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; the petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable; when any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage; when one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; and when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
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