June 14, 2024

For years, the country had seen an immediate failure of any divorce bill that is passed either in Congress or in Senate.
The lobbying of conservatives and other religious groups repeatedly thwarted any attempt to pass a law granting absolute divorce.
As a measure of compromise, the legislative department enacted a law granting the nullity of marriages on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Yet, this did not meet the expectation of many unhappy marriages because of the string of requirements attached to its grant, not to mention the financial burden that accompanies its filing.
So, the clamor to enact a law akin to divorce is snowballing though this is met with stiff resistance from the same groups that do not have the slightest idea on what it feels like to be in a failed relationship. This is about to change.
On May 15, Republic Act 9349 or the proposed Divorce Law, sponsored and authored by Rep. Edcel Lagman, was passed and considered on second reading.
For a law that apparently is picking up dust in Congress, its passage on second reading is a giant step in an otherwise snail-paced process.
While it remains a bill and shall only become a law after three readings and deliberation, the second step is better than starting from scratch.
Listening to the interpretations on the floor as propounded by the pros and cons during the second reading of the bill, the argument opposing its passage is the same. It is premised on the old footstool that is founded on outdated and outmoded foundations. It is more religious than practical, ancient than recent.
It is not that religion should take a background in establishing the norms of our family relations. As a highly regarded Christian nation, we do not lose sight of this. But these are changing times where religion should no longer dictate on the over-riding policies of the State.
This is precisely the reason why there is a provision in the constitution that says “The separation of the Church and State is inviolable.”
At any rate, even our religious doctrines, as provided in the Christian bible, allow absolute divorce. Jesus Christ himself teaches us that we can divorce our mate if he/she commits adultery.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul, in the same Bible, allows women to divorce their husbands if the latter desert and/or abandon the former. This being the case, why are we trying to be more Popist than the Pope? There is really reason to invoke religious grounds to deprive offended partners of their right to seek peace and happiness.
It may be argued that the grounds of divorce as enumerated by the proposed divorce law do not conform to biblical standards and therefore, must be rejected.
Aw c’mon, Jesus Christ’s and Saint Paul’s grant of divorce on two grounds were mere examples since it had to be explained based on circumstances prevailing during their time when women and wives did not occupy the same status as men and husbands.
The world has changed since then and there are incidents that were manifestly improbable during those times that happen today with rapidity and consistency. The bottom line is that divorce is biblically sanctioned and anything less that is hypocrisy.
The Philippines is the only country, save for the Vatican, that does not have a divorce law. Should we take pride in that? Our marriage and family laws have stagnated to such a low degree that we have seen enough suffering brought about by failed marriages. It deprives those who had been battered, bludgeoned to submission and morally corrupted from seeking a second chance in life. To deny the passage of the divorce law is, therefore, a selfish reason to justify our own unfounded suspicions.
True, a divorce law may give couples, especially the influential ones, to simply dissolve their marriage at a whim and remarry until they get tired of marriage and no longer find any meaning in it. However, we must trust in the capacity and maturity of our people to value the essence of marriage.
To us, marriage is not only religious. It is cultural and deeply rooted into our values. It is not like married couples will suddenly break up their marriage just because there is a divorce law.
On the contrary, marriage will remain an institution and whether or not there is a law granting absolute divorce, I am sure that only in extreme cases will it be availed of. The guilt will be too much to ignore.