SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano is against the proposal to legalize divorce in the country, saying it’s not the solution to troubled marriages.
While he is against divorce which is a pet bill of her sister Sen. Pia Cayetano, Cayetano assured the public that the House leadership would facilitate intelligent debates on absolute divorce.
“Some believe that divorce is a solution, some like me do not believe that the divorce is a solution. Let the committee and the plenary debate this,” said the Speaker, who is married to Taguig Rep. Maria Laarni “Lani” Lopez-Cayetano.
Sen. Cayetano filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 288 to legalize divorce on certain conditions while at least four similar bills had been filed at the House of Representatives.
The Speaker said the House of Representatives will have “to act depending on our conscience, while balancing it with the priorities of the administration.”
“I can tell you my personal stand but it’s not just me who will decide. So I can assure you of full debates and discussions on this issue,” Cayetano told reporters in a press conference when asked about the leadership stand on absolute divorce for dysfunctional marriages.
The Speaker underscored the need to find a solution to couples who are trapped in toxic marriages, saying it will always be the children of quarreling couples who will suffer.
“Definitely, for impossible marriages, meaning those who beat their spouse or those psychologically incapacitated. We have to find a solution,” said Cayetano.
The Speaker said bills that enjoy wide support or consensus from the majority of House members will be prioritized.
However, Cayetano said the House will have to “act with caution on bills that have no consensus.”
The House committee on population and family relations has already announced that it will prioritize divorce bills, especially since the measure has already hurdled the lower chamber during the 17th Congress.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, principal author of House Bill 838, said the measure provides couples a cheaper and more viable option out of abusive and irreparable marriages.
“This measure has already gone through tons of deliberations since the 13th Congress, when we first filed it. In fact, its passage should be expedited in the same way that measures also approved in the previous Congress were treated,” she said, citing Section 48 of the House Rules.
In the previous 17th Congress under Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the divorce bill was approved on third and final reading to liberate couples in problematic marriages. The bill, however, died in the Senate due to lack of support.
Under the approved divorce version last Congress, the bill recognized as a ground for dissolution of marriage the same grounds for legal separation under the Family Code.
The bill also provided for summary judicial proceedings to expedite the resolution of petition for marriage dissolution/divorce without regard to technical rules. The petitioner has the option to be represented by lawyer or not.
The following grounds may be subjected to summary judicial proceeding: de facto separation for at least five years, bigamous marriage, legal separation for at least two years, imprisonment for six years, gender reassignment surgery, and joint petition of the spouses for the dissolution of their marriage.
However, the substitute bill also provides for a six-month cooling-off period during which the court shall exercise all efforts to reunite and reconcile the parties.