Alvarez: Divorce bill to strengthen marriage


MANILA — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday dispelled fears that the divorce bill would undermine the sanctity of marriage, saying it would in fact strengthen such sacrament.

Alvarez made the statement a day after the substitute bill instituting absolute divorce hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

Alvarez said the divorce bill would not run counter to the constitutional provision that the State should protect the family.

“In fact, this will strengthen yung marriage dahil nga alam ng both parties na kung hindi ka umayos, hindi ba, nandiyan palagi yungpossibility…yung tsansa na hiwalayan ka ng spouse mo (In fact this will strengthen the marriage because both parties know that if you don’t shape up, there’s always this possibility that the spouse would seek divorce),” Alvarez said in a radio interview.

“So it will really strengthen your marriage, kasi mag-iingat ka na kung mahal mo talaga yung tao (because you would really be careful if you really love that person),” he added.

For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said divorce is an exception for irremediably broken and lost marriages, and the State has a continuing mandate to protect and preserve marriage as a social institution and foundation of the family.

Lagman, who chaired the technical working group which consolidated four related bills on divorce, was also the principal author and sponsor of the RH bill.

Lagman said the bill provides the State’s role in “strengthening marriage and family life by undertaking relevant pre-nuptial and post matrimonial programs and activities.”

Another provision affirming the commitment of government to safeguard marriage is the mandatory six-month cooling off period prescribed after a petition for divorce is filed as a “final attempt of reconciling the concerned spouses”, except in summary judicial proceedings, Lagman noted.

Furthermore, reconciliation upon agreement of the spouses is recognized and effectuated even after a petition for absolute divorce has been filed or a divorce decree has been issued.

The substitute bill aims to ensure that the proceedings for the grant of absolute divorce shall be affordable, efficient and inexpensive, especially for indigent litigants or petitioners.

The grounds for absolute divorce are the existing grounds for legal separation and annulment of marriage.

Also a possible ground for absolute divorce is the couple’s separation for at least five years.

Other valid grounds include psychological incapacity of either spouse, irreconcilable marital differences, or a gender reassignment surgery of either spouse.

The bill also provides for alimony or financial support for the children of divorced parents.