Atienza: No to divorce

August 19, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 550 views

DEPUTY Speaker and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (BUHAY) party-list Rep. LitoAtienza has assailed the passage in the committee level of the substitute bill reinstituting absolute divorce in the country.

“We condemn the action taken by the committee on population and family relations in the passage of the substitute bill on absolute divorce in the country. This is in direct violation of the Constitution, specifically Article II, Section 12 which says that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution; and Article XV where the State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development and that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State,” Atienza said.

“The Constitution says the sanctity of marriage should be protected by the State. Passing this measure goes against the inviolability of marriage, which should never be broken, infringed or dishonored. We will challenge this all the way to the Supreme Court, if needed, where we are sure it will be deemed unconstitutional,” Atienza stressed.

“They did not invite a number of big family organizations to defend the sanctity of marriage. A number of them were informed of the meeting on the day itself, and the committee seems to have timed it exactly to coincide with the committee hearing on the CoA (Commission on Audit) report on the DoH (Department of Health). They passed it in record time, treating it as lightly as the renaming of a public street,” Atienza pointed out.

“These family organizations would have presented the volume of studies showing that children of divorced parents develop psychological disorders, such as what is happening in the U.S. where children bring guns to school, indiscriminately shooting their classmates,” Atienza said.

“This is another sorry day for Congress, where the State, instead of protecting the sanctity and inviolability of marriage and the family, led the way to further weaken it,” he said.

On Wednesday, House Deputy Speaker and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva expressed strong disappointment on the unanimous approval by the House committee on family relations on a substitute bill legalizing absolute divorce in the country to relieve a lot of couples locked in broken marriages.

Villanueva said the decision will contribute to further decay of family relations in the country.

For the second consecutive Congress since the 17th Congress, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of House Bill (HB) No. 100, said an absolute divorce bill is bound for plenary debates in the House of Representatives.

Lagman said the panel approved the unnumbered substitute bill crafted by a Technical Working Group (TWG) that he chairs.

“No less than Speaker Lord Allan Velasco favors the enactment of a reinstituted absolute divorce law as he submitted the following perfecting amendments which are now incorporated in the substitute bill: (a) provisions on court-assisted petitioners; (b) community-based pre-nuptial and post-matrimonial programs; (c) community-based women’s desks to provide assistance and support to victims of violence and abuse; and (d) an appropriation language for the bill,” Lagman said.

The Albay lawmaker said the other grounds for divorce are the following: (a) separation in fact for at least five (5) years at the time the petition for absolute divorce is filed; (b) when one of the spouses undergoes a gender reassignment surgery or transitions from one sex to another; (c) irreconcilable marital differences as defined in the bill; (d) other forms of domestic or marital abuse which are also defined in the bill; (e) valid foreign divorce secured by either the alien or Filipino spouse; and (f) a marriage nullified by a recognized religious tribunal.

Aside from his HB 100, Lagman said other divorce measures filed were HB No. 838 of party-list Reps. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, France Castro of Alliance and Concerned Teachers (ACT), Sarah Elago of Kabataan, Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna; and HB No. 2263 by former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.

The other members of the TWG were Reps. Juliet Ferrer, Malou Acosta-Alba, Arlene Brosas, and Ma. Victoria Umali under the overall leadership of Chairperson Ma. Lucille Nava.