Manila, Philippines – Albay Representative Edcel Lagman on Sunday expressed confidence that the measures introducing divorce in the Philippines will be passed into law before the 17th Congress ends in 2019.
“I think before the 17th Congress ends, we have a divorce [law],” Lagman said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.
“It will be faster compared to the controversial reproductive health bill,” he added.
Lagman is the head of the technical working group consolidating and discussing the measures filed to introduce divorce.
He said they intend to have the consolidated or substitute divorce bill approved in the plenary level before the International Women’s Day this coming March.
“This underscores that the divorce bill is a pro-women law that more than men have wives in need of divorce bills because they have been victims of failed marriages,” he added.
He pointed out that one ground they are considering for absolute divorce is physical violence inflicted by the defendant upon the petitioner, in this case, the battered spouse.
In the existing Family Code, a ground for legal separation is repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner.
“[Now], it’s just physical violence, because you do not give too much sacrifice to a wife almost every day beaten,” Lagman said.
Lagman added that there are provisions as regards custody and support for the children and their inheritance.
“The petitioner can submit a plan to the judge. If the judge will say that your plan is okay, then that will be approved by the court.”
The Albay representative said they also excluded in the measure the terms “chronic differences or chronic unhappiness.”
“The chronic unhappiness is hard to define, that’s something esoteric that we just put in irreconcilable differences,” he said.
“It’s possible to have a measure but can not be defined completely because the Supreme Court says, in exchange for psychological incapacity, when it is dinefine by Congress, it is possible that there are instances that can not be included in the definition.”
Faster, cheaper process
Likewise, Lagman noted that they are working to make the process of absolute divorce faster and cheaper.
“When filing a petition for absolute divorce, there is a six-month cooling off period, because we still give way or hope to reconcile the marriage. But after six months there is no real In the future, divorce proceedings will be continued. ”
“But, if the ground is violent against the woman, there is no cooling off period because it may be punished for the punishments of the wives,” he said.
Indigent litigants, meanwhile, will be excluded from paying filing fees and court fees under the proposed divorce bill.
“When indigent litigant, she will no longer pay filing fees or court fees. We give the court the right to appoint a de officio counsel from the Integrated Bar [of the Philippines] or to legal associations to reduce the cost of fees, “Lagman said.
Lagman believes that the Catholic Church is not entirely unsupportive of the divorce bill.
“They have been accustomed to having CBCP [Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines] in our conversations. And even if they say they are opposed to absolute divorce, they acknowledge that even though the Church has been called canonical nullification of a marriage, “he said.
“So I think the opposition of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations is not very strong.”
He likewise said that a divorce law will not encourage couples to ultimately end their marriage and opt not to work out the issues in the relationship.
“The experience of countries with divorce law is not exploited by spouses, and in fact, those countries in Europe with divorce decrees are still dropping the application for divorce or an instance of separation,” the lawmaker said. .
“This is where the foundation of marriage is no longer so that the foundation does not destroy us and we are giving a new opportunity to marry and protect children who are really victims of marital conflict,” he added.
According to him, the technical working group will meet again on Tuesday to discuss the bill which is expected to be approved by the mother committee on Wednesday, February 21.