The Philippine Senate must approve a bill to legalize divorce before it can become law. A conservative Senate majority leader has vowed to oppose the measure, and he may delay it until he can convince the rest of the chamber to pass it. The current measure has not been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has opposed the issue since his election campaign. But his allies, including House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, support the bill.
Despite the need to reduce domestic violence and abuse, the lack of divorce legislation exacerbates class inequalities. Those with financial means can afford to opt for legal options for dissolution, but many poor and middle-class women cannot. This lack of legal options for divorce also encourages domestic violence and sexual harassment, most of which affect women and children. Since women account for 49.5% of the population, the lack of legal divorce legislation is detrimental to women and children in the Philippines.
One reason why divorce should not be legalized in the Philippines is the religious nature of the country. Most Filipinos believe that marriage is a sacred institution, and discuss the failure of a relationship is taboo. Despite these cultural reasons, it’s important to note that in some Latin American countries, divorce was legal. These countries were influenced by LGBTQ rights, parental rights, and social redistribution. However, the Philippines tries to maintain the marriage as a social institution and a solid family foundation. The strong traditional family norms and societal attitudes towards divorce have prevented previous attempts to legalize divorce.
The Philippines is a deeply religious country, and the Catholic Church has consistently lobbied against the bill. It is estimated that 90 percent of the population is Catholic, and the Catholic Church has actively opposed the bill. However, Duterte could still change his mind and veto the bill if it passes the senate. In the meantime, a vote on the bill could be delayed until late May or June.
The only legal way to end a Filipino marriage is by filing for annulment. An annulment allows the couple to separate their possessions and live apart, while the legality of the marriage remains intact. However, the legality of the marriage is not compromised if the foreign spouse seeks divorce in their home country. Once the Philippines approves a divorce, the foreign spouse can then remarry.
Divorce is a destructive process for a couple. It damages the stability and unity of the family. Marriages are not 50-50 and divorce destroys the family. In other countries, divorce reduces the incidence of extreme violence between partners, and it is estimated that 25-50 percent of all divorces in other countries are due to domestic violence. Refusing to provide this option for these people will condemn the victims to a life of desperation and even lethal action.