Church annulment bill hurdles 2nd reading in House

MANILA — The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a proposal seeking to recognize the civil effects of church annulment or dissolution of certain marriages by different religious sects in the country.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 6779, or an act recognizing the civil effects of church annulment decree.

The bill provides that whenever a marriage, duly and legally solemnized by a priest, minister, imam, rabbi or presiding elder of any church or religious sect in the Philippines is subsequently annulled or dissolved in a final judgment or decree by said church or religion, the said annulment or dissolution shall have the same effect as a decree of annulment or dissolution issued by a competent court.

The bill also provides that the decree of annulment shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry within 30 days from the issuance of the final judgment.

The bill provides for the mode of liquidation, partition, and distribution of properties of the spouses, as well as the determination of the legal status of the spouses’ children.

Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, principal author of the bill, said, while marriage was an institution that the state was interested in, it was also a religious act.

“For the predominant Catholics of our country, it is a sacrament and marriage is not considered valid insofar as Catholics are concerned unless celebrated in accordance with the solemnities of the church. Marriage, therefore, is an element in the exercise of religious freedom,” Garcia said.

“So logically, if the marriage, insofar as the contracting parties are concerned, is validated by the laws of the Church, then it necessarily follows that by the same laws, such marriage can also be invalidated or annulled,” she added.