Divorce should be legalized
in the Philippines
March 21, 2013 (Date Submitted)
Marriage is meant to last forever and vows usually include the phrase, “’til death do us part”. These are the words that most of us believed. Marriage is regarded as a sacred union between a man and a woman, thus, it must be cherished and valued with love. But what if the love that a couple once shared together fades away? What if the love becomes weak and unstable as time passes by? What if everything changes and a person started to live a life full of misery? One of their options to solve these problems would be the divorce. It should be implemented in the Philippines. Present situation demands it. Reality tells us that there are many failed, unhappy marriages across the nation. Marriage is never as blissful as people expect. Divorce is never as devastating as people imagine.
Divorce gives people a fresh start to lead better lives. Living in a marriage where love, respect, friendship, and compatibility are gone is a life without hope. Let us think about other people suffering due to unhappiness brought by their marriage. What is the sense of being binded by a piece of paper when it is actually ruining your whole life? Divorce nullifies marriage, therefore, giving couples the freedom to remarry and to escape from an unhappy relationship. Divorce should be legalized in the Philippines.
II. Background of the Paper
This research paper entitled “Divorce should be legalized in the Philippines” aims to convince the readers by presenting different evidences that could change the reader’s perspective regarding the issue. The pieces of evidence that we gathered are from the articles of Evelyn Ursua (Positively Filipino) and Anne Umil (Bulatlat) entitled
“Why the Philippines needs a divorce law?” and “Divorce bill, providing a remedy for women in abusive marriages”, an excerpt from Sen. Pia Cayetano’s privilege speech, annual comparative statistics on violence against women (2004-2011) and a poll result in an online website. The purposes of this research study are to define divorce and its concepts and to better understand the benefits of divorce when legalized in the Philippines. This paperwork also intends to review the issues and arguments that are being raised by the Filipinos. Also, this aims to clarify points about the issue. This paper covers the situation of fail and unhappy marriages in the country. Beyond all, this research paper is made to encourage and persuade the Filipinos to support the legalization of divorce in the country.
A divorce is a legal action between married people to terminate their marriage relationship. It can be referred to as dissolution of marriage and is basically, the legal action that ends the marriage before the death of either spouse. The purpose of a divorce is to terminate the parties’ marriage. Marriage is a legal contract or a social union that unites people of the opposite sex who agree to live as a husband and a wife. It is a binding contract between two people who decide to join their lives, income and possessions. Marriage relationship forms a family unit that consists of a father, mother and children. It is also an institution where people acknowledge interpersonal relationships, which is usually sexual and intimate. Most people and cultures formalize a marriage union through a wedding ceremony. Reasons for marriage include emotional, social, legal, religion and spiritual obligations. An annulment is legal decree that states that a marriage was never valid. The legal effect of an annulment is to void the marriage as though it never existed. Cases where annulments have been granted in the past
based on fraud includes citizenship, sexual relationship, character, honesty, health, financial, and religion
Divorce has become one of the major issues in our society for the past years. The social acceptability of divorce has varied widely across historical periods, religious faiths, and cultures but not in the Philippines. Other than the Vatican City, Philippines is the only nation that outlaws divorce.
The Philippines is known for being a strong Christian nation, with over 80% of its population as Roman Catholics. They are the group that is known to be against the divorce issue. According to the article from Positively Filipino Magazine entitled “Why the Philippines Needs a Divorce Law” by Evalyn Ursua, the Catholic Church will be the greatest opponent of the divorce bill. It was once argue against the bill on moral grounds. But the Catholic Church does not need to worry. The institutions of marriage and the family have survived to this day, as they will survive a Philippine divorce law. We are a secular state, where no religious group has the right to define law or policy for the entire population. The law should only give people a choice, to be exercised according to their own personal beliefs.
We can clearly see that our Catholic orientation has been a dominant factor. Divorce is something that we should adopt. Remember that Spain is the root of Christianity yet divorce had been implemented. They are now benefiting from it. A lot of people fear that divorce might erode the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. The cases of Italy and Spain (two Catholic countries which practice divorce) are clear evidences of its invalidity. In accordance with House Bill No. 1799 filed by the Gabriela
Women’s Party last July 27, 2010, Italy had only 7% while Spain registers 15% of divorce rate. In addition to that, over 90% of the poll respondents are in favor of divorce. In an official poll that ran from December 19 to January 3, 92.44 percent or 40,414 voted “Yes” to the question, “Are you in favor of divorce in the Philippines?” This shows that the public, regardless of their marital status, is now more open to accept the possibility of divorce. Everyone should have the right to escape from a bad marriage and be happy again. Falling into wrong decision actually happens. If we legalize divorce in our country, people with fail marriage will be given a chance and freedom to choose the right one for them so they will not have to suffer from a marriage that is not working anymore. Moreover, there’s no assurance that people who get divorced want to find a new spouse.
Everyday, there are Filipinos who get married, bear children, separate and get into other relationships, regardless of what the law says. The lack of a divorce law for Filipinos complicates further the marital and family problems of many Filipinos. Our Government has clearly failed to respond to their needs. If the country wants to move forward, it has to confront the realities of marital and family life of Filipinos in the Philippines. Let’s give other people another chance to live life with their desired happiness. The divorce law needs to be legalized in the Philippines now.
The researchers also put forward the claim that the process of Annulment is allowed in the Philippines but why not divorce? After all, Annulment and divorce are just the same – it targets separation. However, Annulment only allows a legal separation through a legal settlement. This will not allow any of the parties to remarry. Because of the Family Code, some Filipinos think that we do not need a divorce for it already
provides to cease a marriage through “annulment”. This argument misleads. The remedy of annulment is based on specified grounds that occurred at the time of the celebration of the marriage, such as lack of parental consent and vitiated consent. The remedy of annulment expires, and the defect may actually be cured by ratification through free and voluntary cohabitation (Positively Filipino, 2013).
When lay people speak of “annulment” as a means of terminating a marriage, they actually refer to the remedy under Article 36 of the Family Code. Article 36 declares that a marriage is void from the beginning when one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations. Under Article 36, a court does not terminate a marriage but only declares it void. One must prove psychological incapacity by presenting evidence on three essential elements of the condition: that it already existed before the marriage; that it is grave or serious; and that it is incurable. To do this, one usually needs the help of a psychiatrist or psychologist to testify as an expert witness (Positively Filipino, 2013). Article 36 of the Family Code only nullifies a marriage when one has proved that he or she is psychologically incapacitated
(Bulatlat, 2011). Therefore, annulment has no defined grounds and terms for
terminating a marriage. Here is why the writers assert that divorce should be implemented in the Philippines.
In support to this, Senator Pia Cayetano once stated in her privilege speech, “I’ll
tell you why. I’ve talked to lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists and it’s so traumatic
to go through annulment because under our Philippine laws, you have to blame someone, you have to say you’re incapacitated, you’re saying that this marriage never existed, which is not true,”
A divorce law will provide a remedy that Article 36 does not. Divorce does not concern itself with validity or invalidity of a marriage. It terminates a marriage based on a ground that occurred during the marriage, which makes the marital relationship no longer tenable, regardless of the spouse’s psychological constitution. A divorce law will provide a straightforward remedy to a marital failure. It will benefit Filipinos wherever they are.
Conforming to an article (Bulatlat, 2011), an annulment case takes two years or longer to arrive at a conclusion. It could reach P250, 000 which includes attorney fees, court docketing fee and filing fees, etc. In 2010, a little over 7000 couples were granted annulment; most of these are well-to-do, because it takes a lot of money to have an annulment (Wordpress, 2011). A blogger whose marriage is annulled claims that she disbursed P100, 000 for the judge, solicitor general and initial investigator, as well as everybody involved in the case since her annulment case is not moving after one year. After shelling out P100, 000, the case was concluded within a month. The total cost of the process was P175, 000 (Bulatlat, 2011). Thus, if the law is passed, divorce will be cheaper than annulment.
Given the fact that most of the people in our country are financially challenged to stop unhealthy married life, divorce is the way to get peace out of a futile marriage. Divorce is the answer for both men and women who feel used, battered or tortured mentally in their marriage. Today, divorce is one way to lessen violence. Annulment is just a legal separation and does not allow women to have a right to be happily remarried. This completely rejects the idea of new life-- divorce does.
The last and final argument that the researchers want to specify is the increasing rate of battered wife in the Philippines. The most common violence against women in the Philippines is the intimate partner violence – but married women in the Philippines have no way out. The abuse can be verbal, physical or psychological.
According to the Annual Comparative Statistics on Violence against Women (2004 – 2011), wife battery ranked highest at 49% of all forms of violence and abuse against women. This is one of the reasons why divorce should be legalized in the Philippines. Women, nowadays, lack confidence because they know that there are no laws to support them. Couples remain living together due to the lack of a law that would allow them to legally and properly part ways, and seek the peace and happiness that they couldn’t find in their present partner. It would be best for a couple to part ways rather than to live together under one roof and sin through their violence that will affect and traumatize the innocent children. In millions of households, both men and women who are trapped in marital commitment constantly quarrel, often in front of their helpless children who grow up in a confused and violent environment. Often, men turn to other women and bear illegitimate children, and then abandon their legal wives and children because of laxity of laws that should have held them accountable.
As stated in an article entitled “Philippines needs divorce law.” by Val G. Abelgas, “It is not a coincidence that those pushing for the divorce bill in Congress are women. It is also not a coincidence that all over the world, a big percentage of those filing for divorce are women. It is not difficult to understand that in most failed marriages, it is the women who suffer more – victims of domestic abuse and violence, and neglected or abandoned by philandering or alcoholic husbands.” Many of these women suffer in
silence in the Philippines. And yet, they are confined to their hopeless situation because of the lack of a divorce law. It is obvious that most of people who are in favor in legalization of divorce in Philippines are women. We cannot deny the fact that they are the usual victims of abusive marriages.
Divorce might be the solution to these problems. It could provide protection to the battered women and their children. It could save a wife from being beaten daily by a drunken husband. Divorce wouldn’t necessarily destroy the foundation of the family. It gives hope to the couples to rebuild their lives and have a normal relationship. It’s a reality that many are suffering from abusive marriages. Why let someone be stuck in a marriage where love and respect don’t exist anymore? Why deny them the chance to regain their liberty and happiness? Not legalizing divorce is a total injustice to these people.
IV. Counter Argument
The opponents, particularly the Catholic Church, claim that “What God has put together, let no man put asunder” or “Marriage is sacred, what was bound by God can't be dissolved by man”. They believe that God did not make man and woman to be united and then separated if they got into some problems. For this reason, Catholic Church argues that divorce is contrary to the law of God, “Divorce breaks the contract to which the spouses freely consented to live with each other till death”. Therefore, people who opposed the divorce bill think it was only men who want it, not God.
Furthermore, “moralists” feel that the divorce bill will just result to the breakdown of families. They concede that strong family foundation is the backbone of a stable
society. Divorce threatens this foundation that can lead to the erosion of the society. It weakens the bond between the couple that tends to lessen the chance of facing the hardships and difficulties of a married couple. This instability of the families may yieldto the rearrangements and readjustments of the familial relationships that may bring psychological problems to the children. Children will become maladjusted and potentially harmful or destructive adults. Hence, they suppose that divorce will make the value and institution of marriage meaningless.
Moreover, critics said that divorce is unconstitutional. They contended that it is stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution that “Marriage is an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State”. Divorce will be a threat against the family which the constitution pledged to protect as an inviolable institution. Therefore, to be able to allow divorce, the constitution would need to be amended first.
We, the researchers, therefore conclude that divorce should be legalized in the Philippines because couples should have the option to choose for remedies that will help them in obtaining their self actualization. The remedy is divorce. They should have the right to escape from marriages that they entered before and let them live a new and happy life. Given the aforementioned evidences, the researchers strongly claim that legalizing divorce would be a big help for Filipinos. The lawmakers should prioritize the divorce bill because the existing laws are not enough to address their needs. What we need is a divorce law that defines clearly and unequivocally the grounds and terms for terminating a marriage. Life is too short to be married to someone you don’t want to be
married to. Divorce is a choice and we all should have the freedom to make choices. Simplify the divorce process and let the couples continue on with their lives in to find the partner they will be happy with to live their lives. Furthermore, in cases where a union is more harmful than beneficial, a divorce can be a benevolent and less hurtful way of severing ties with your partner. When the marriage is no longer viable, divorce should be an option.
Abelgas, V.G. (2012, May 29). Philippines needs divorce law. Global Balita. Retrieved from http://globalbalita.com/2012/05/29/philippines-needs-divorce-law/
Umil, A.M.D.(2011, June 14). Divorce bill, providing a remedy for women in abusive marriages. Retrieved from http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/06/14/divorce-bill-providing-a-remedy-for-women-in-abusive-marriages/
Ursua, E.G. (2013, February 1). Why the Philippines needs a divorce law? Positively Filipino Magazine. Retrieved from http://positivelyfilipino.com/magazine/ 2013/2/why-the-philippines-needs-a-divorce-law
Statistics on violence against Filipino women. Philippine Commission on Women. (2012, October 2). Retrieved from http://pcw.gov.ph/statistics/201210/statistics-violence-against-filipino-women
Over 90% of poll respondents favor divorce in PH. Inquirer News. (2013, January 3). Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/334579/over-90-of-poll-respondents-favor-divorce-in-ph